Military identifies Canadian soldier killed in Afghan blast

Canadian military officials released on Saturday the identitiy of a soldier killed the day before by an explosive device while on foot patrol west of Kandahar.

Canadian military officials released on Saturday the identity of asoldier from Thunder Bay, Ont., who was killed while on foot patrolwest of Kandahar.

Pte. Josh Klukie, a member of the 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, which is based at CFB Petawawa near Ottawa, died Friday after triggering what may have been an improvised explosive device (IED) on a road in Afghanistan'sPanjwaii district.

Military officials have not released his age. His remains have been flown to Kandahar airfield.

A woman at the home of Klukie's motherin Thunder Baytold the Canadian Presson Saturday that the family had no comment.

Capt. Jim Davis of Thunder Bay's Lake Superior Scottish Regiment said a public affairs officer from Winnipeg was en route to Klukie's hometown.Davis said officials were trying to organize a news conference where a family representative would likely speak to the media.

PM offers condolences

Prime Minister Stephen Harperexpressed his condolences Saturday to Klukie's family and friends.

"Canadians will not forget the dedication and courage he demonstrated," Harper said ina statement."We are proud of him, and humbled by his willingness to serve Canada."

The military said one other soldier, Cpl. James Miller, of Hamilton, became deaf in his left ear and suffered a possible concussion in the incident.

Col.Fred Lewissaid the soldiers were onpatrol on a combat road created by a bulldozer for Operation Medusa,the large-scale offensive aimed at driving Taliban fighters from their strongholds in southern Afghanistan.

Device planted in road

He said anIEDor a landmine planted in the road and one of the soldiers triggered it.

"The use of IEDs by insurgents indicates their callous lack of regard for people in the region,"Lewis said. "It could have just as easily been a bunch of children playing in the area."

Lewissaid it appeared unlikelythe device had been set off by remote control.

The news came the same day funerals werescheduled for three of four Canadian soldiers killed earlier this month. They died when a suicide bomber on a bicycle detonated a devicenear the Canadians, who wereon foot patrol.

Speaking from Kabul, NATO spokesman Mark Laity told CBC Newsworldsoldiersknow it isdangerous to get out of the armoured vehicles, but believe it is necessary ifthey wantto win the "hearts and minds" of Afghans.

"These are soldiers. They understand they have to take these risks," he said.

Morethan 2,000 Canadians are serving in Afghanistan's volatile southern region. With the latest death, 37 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed since the mission started four years ago.

With files from the Canadian Press