Roadside bomb kills Canadian soldier in Afghanistan

A Canadian soldier was killed Friday in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb that narrowly missed a vehicle carrying the commander of coalition troops in Kandahar.

A Canadian soldier was killed Friday in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb that narrowly missed a vehicle carrying the commander of coalition troops in Kandahar.

Cpl. Nick Bulger, 30, a member of Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance's tactical team, was travelling behind the general in Kandahar province when his light armoured vehicle struck an improvised explosive device at 11:20 a.m. local time.

After Vance's vehicle passed over the bomb safely, it was set off 15 metres behind by the vehicle in which Bulger was travelling. Vance was not injured in the blast.

Five other soldiers were hurt, but are in good condition and receiving medical care at Kandahar Airfield.

In an interview on Canada Day, Bulger told CBC he was hopeful about Afghanistan's future.

"Especially when we're driving down the streets in the rural areas, to look down into the eyes of the children that are there, you get a different perspective," Bulger said Wednesday.

"All you see is the war and the destruction and stuff like that, but then when you see those kids running through the streets without a care in the world … being here makes a huge difference."

At a news conference Friday, Vance called Bulger a determined and passionate soldier.

"He attacked every challenge head-on, including the daily grind of providing some relief to this shattered country."

Harper extended condolences

On his first deployment overseas since joining the Forces in 2000, Bulger "always handled himself as a seasoned infantry veteran," Vance said.

From Calgary, Canada's chief of defence staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk, said the country had lost "one of our valiant soldiers."

"Again we grieve for our fallen warrior. We stand with their family and I know I'll meet them here in the next few days but it's a terrible situation that we're dealing with."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper extended condolences to Bulger's family and expressed "profound regret" in a statement.

"Hard-won progress is being made in Afghanistan," Harper said. "Remarkable Canadians like Corporal Bulger will be remembered for their dedication and ultimate sacrifice for peace and freedom."

Bulger was a member of 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton. He leaves his wife Rebeka and two daughters, mother, brothers and sister.

"Nick was extremely family-oriented, and his three girls meant the world to him," said Vance.

'Tools of cowards'

"He also believed that his military comrades were a part of that family and treated him with the same compassion. Despite his tough exterior, Nick had a huge heart , which he lent to everyone in his life."

Vance called improvised explosive devices the "tools of cowards."

"Today it claimed the life of a valued Canadian soldier. It could have easily claimed the lives of an Afghan family," he said. "They are indiscriminate and all too deadly."

Vance often travels in Kandahar province with soldiers who act as his "close-protection" force. At the time of the explosion, his convoy was in the western Zhari district — an area of intense insurgent activity, about 60 kilometres west of Kandahar city — to visit American troops who are under Canadian command.

The military detained several people after the blast, though it is not clear whether they were involved.

Just two days ago on Canada Day, Vance's group was visiting other Canadian bases when they had to rescue another convoy escorted by private guards that was ambushed by insurgents. In the ensuing battle, Vance's team killed several insurgents.

Bulger is the third Canadian death in Afghanistan in less than a month. Cpl. Martin Dubé was killed in an explosion June 14 while trying to defuse a bomb.

His death brings to 121 the total number of Canadian soldiers who have died as part of the Afghan mission since it began in 2002.

With files from The Canadian Press