Times Colonist

Canadian soldiers wounded in attacks

- DOUG SCHMIDT

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD — Four Canadian soldiers were wounded, one seriously, in two separate attacks yesterday in the Zhari District, about 30 kilometres west of Kandahar City.

In the first incident around 12:15 p.m. local time, insurgents engaged Canadian soldiers with small-arms fire during a security operation. One Canadian was injured.

At about the same time nearby, an improvised explosive device detonated, resulting in one soldier being very seriously wounded while two other Canadians and an Afghan interprete­r were seriously injured. The blast occurred while soldiers were conducting a foot patrol.

All five casualties were airlifted to Kandahar Airfield’s Role 3 multinatio­nal medical unit, with the very seriously injured soldier expected to be transferre­d to Landstuhl, Germany. The interprete­r was transferre­d to General Shirzai Hospital, where he is reported in good condition.

The Canadian Forces said that, for reasons of privacy, none of the soldiers who were wounded will be identified.

The Canadian Task Force and Afghan national security forces recently completed a successful operation to neutralize IED production cells in Kandahar Province.

“We have come to expect retaliatio­n from insurgents following their setbacks, and we do everything possible to ensure we are prepared,” said navy Lt. Al Blondin, spokesman for the task force.

Both attacks occurred in the midst of the so-called days of tranquilli­ty, a three-day period when internatio­nal aid agencies like UNICEF and the World Health Organizati­on planned to blanket the southern area of conflict with mobile teams sent to inoculate children under the age of five against polio.

UNICEF officials told Canwest News Service earlier yesterday that “access negotiator­s” had spoken with the Taliban to arrange a temporary cessation of hostilitie­s in the most dangerous areas, which includes Zhari.

The latest days of tranquilli­ty, an initiative that has been employed in other global hot spots in order to reach at-risk civilians, was to have run until sunset today.

It’s a three-day respite, when the wars of the adults are supposed to pause in order for another war to proceed — the battle to eradicate polio in children.

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