Petawawa-based soldier killed in Afghan offensive
'We lost a good kid today... our thoughts are going out to his family right now': colonel
ACanadian soldier was killed and another was wounded Fridaywhen a bomb explodedshortly after the start ofa major offensive against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan.
Theslain soldierhas beenidentified as Cpl. Matthew McCully, a signals operator with the 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Headquarters and Signals Squadron. He was based at CFB Petawawa, about 200 kilometres northwest of Ottawa.
McCully, 25, was born in Orangeville, a town about 80 kilometres north of Toronto.
"We lost a good kid today," said Col. Mike Cessford, deputy commander of the Canadian contingent in Afghanistan, hisvoice breaking during a news conference in Kandahar. "We're thinking about him and our thoughts are going out to his family right now."
He isthe 55th Canadian soldier to be killed in Afghanistan since the mission started in 2002.
"It's a very sad and tragic occurrence that Cpl. McCully has lost his life," Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay told CBC News in Toronto. "It underlines again the cost of democracy and freedom and the pursuit of these values."
The wounded soldier has non-life-threatening injuries and was taken by helicopter to the main NATO base in Kandahar. TheAfghan translator was lightly wounded and remained on patrol with the Canadians, said CBC reporter Derek Stoffel, who is at the Kandahar base.
Patrolling with Afghans
The Canadian soldier was walking nearNalgham village with his Afghan colleagues around 8 a.m. local time when he stepped on the IED, said Cessford.
"This incident will not deter us from working closely together with the Afghan people."
"We're going to grieve with his family and we are going to help them say farewell with dignity," Hillier said after giving a speech in Toronto onFriday morning.
"We are going to show that young man all the respect, with the military pageantry, that he has earned by his significant accomplishments on our behalf."
The soldier was killedat the start ofOperation Hoover, which started late Thursday asCanadian tanks and infantry pushed into Zhari district, a volatile region on the western edge of Kandahar province.
The operation includes Canadian, Portuguese and Afghan infantry, with support from tanks, British air power and distant howitzer positions manned by gunners from the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery.
The operation is taking place just west of the Panjwaii district, the scene of Operation Medusa— one of Canada's most significant battles in Afghanistan.
Canadians lead mentoring program
Operation Hoover is the largest and most ambitious offensive for Canada in more than six weeks, and is being led by soldiers from the Afghan National Army who have been trained bythe Canadian mentoring team.
Last week, Canadian Forces took control of the mentoring program in Kandahar province, as well as Uruzgan province in the north.
Speaking at the handover ceremony on Tuesday, OMLT commander Lt.-Col. Wayne Eyre called the change in command "the next evolution in Canada's involvement in Afghanistan."
"We're taking more mentorship responsibilities with the Afghan National Army to eventually get them to a state where they can handle security for Afghanistan on their own."
With files from the Canadian Press