Taliban attack leaves PPCLI officer dead
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — A Canadian officer leading his troops to safety after a foot patrol came under attack yesterday was killed by enemy small-arms fire, the deputy commander of Joint Task Force Afghanistan told reporters in Kandahar.
Capt. Richard Steven Leary, a platoon commander with the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, based at CFB Shilo in Manitoba, died four weeks to the day after another Canadian soldier was shot and killed while on a similar foot patrol in the same area rife with Taliban insurgent activity west of Kandahar City.
“The soldiers returned fire, and under Capt. Leary’s leadership, repositioned, when he was struck,” said Col. Jamie Cade, deputy-commander, Joint Task Force Afghanistan.
Leary’s body is expected to be returned to Canada this week from Kandahar Airfield, where most of the 2,500 Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan are based and where the Maple Leaf flags are flying at half-mast.
Canadian soldiers and Afghan security forces were on a joint foot patrol in the volatile Panjwaii District, where Canadians have frequently come under attack, when they drew small-arms fire early yesterday, sparking a “prolonged engagement” that continued after Leary was shot.
According to Cade, “close air support was called in and the enemy was defeated.”
The captain’s death brings Canada’s toll in Afghanistan to 84 soldiers and one diplomat.