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Soldier's death a first for elite Canadian unit

The elite Canadian soldier who fell to his death in Afghanistan while scaling a communications tower was the first ever casualty suffered by Canada's ultra-secretive stealth force, military sources tell the CBC.

The elite Canadian soldier who fell to his death in Afghanistan while scaling a communications tower was the firstdeath eversuffered by Canada's ultra-secretive stealth force, military sources tell the CBC.

While the soldier's family was notified of his death on Wednesday, they have requested to withhold his name.

Little is known about the soldier other than his status as a member of Canada's "special forces."

In Canada, that elite commando unit is known as Joint Task Force 2.

JTF2 fighters operate under extreme secrecy and are considered to be among the country's finest military specialists.

Col. Mike Cessford, the deputy commander of Joint Task Force Afghanistan, earlier told reporters it was the first special forces death of a Canadian in Afghanistan.

But a military spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, was explicit the incident was the first fatality during a mission in the unit's history.

'Simply, unfortunately, an accident'

The soldier's death is being described as "non-combat" related.

Cessford said the soldier was not working as part of an ongoing operation in Kandahar at the time of the fall.

"I believe that this was a routine activity that was underway," Cessford said in Kandahar, where Canadian troops are based. "It was not operationally related at this time. It was simply, unfortunately, an accident.

"I would stress that we take every precaution to minimize the dangers to our soldiers. However, risk is inherent in the nature of the work that we do."

Fifty-four Canadian soldiers have now been killed in Afghanistan.

Most have died in combat or in bomb attacks by insurgents.

With files from the Canadian Press

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