Canadian Forces still in Afghanistan are not on a designated “combat” mission, yet, on Saturday morning, our first casualty in Kabul is the result of a Taliban suicide car bombing in which 13, possibly 14, NATO have been confirmed dead.
Master Cpl. Byron Greff of the Edmonton-based 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry was on his second tour of Afghanistan when he was killed. He is the 158th Canadian soldier to die in Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.
A total of five NATO soldiers and eight civilian contractors were killed in the blast. Four Afghans died and scores of others were wounded. There is no mention of who the wounded are, but if Canadians are among them, they face rehabilitation under the New Veterans Charter, which has short-changed so many combat wounded since 2006. It’s in defence of those who have served that Canadian veterans are protesting nationally, November 5 at 11 a.m.
Murray Brewster of Canadian Press reports Brewster was a paratrooper as well as a member of the battalion’s reconnaissance platoon. “Greff was taking a routine trip between training and headquarters bases in the Afghan capital when a car packed with explosives rammed into a heavily armoured NATO bus known as a Rhino. It was escorted by two heavily armed patrol vehicles at the time.”
The remainder of this report is excerpted from the dispatch written by AMIR SHAH and DEB RIECHMANN for the Associated Press. BONNIE
A Taliban suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into an armored NATO bus Saturday on a busy thoroughfare in Kabul, killing 17 people, including a dozen Americans, in the deadliest strike against the U.S.-led coalition in the Afghan capital since the war began.
The blast occurred on the same day that a man wearing an Afghan army uniform killed three Australian soldiers and an Afghan interpreter in the south — attacks that show the resiliency of the insurgency and are likely to raise new doubts about the unpopular 10-year-old war and the Western strategy of trying to talk peace with the Taliban.
A spokesman for the fundamentalist Islamic movement, which was ousted in the 2001 invasion for its affiliation with al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the Kabul attack, saying the bomber had used 1,540 pounds (700 kilograms) of explosives.
The Taliban and related groups have staged more than a dozen major attacks in Kabul this year, including seven since June, in an apparent campaign to weaken confidence in the Afghan government as it prepares to take over its own security ahead of a 2014 deadline for the U.S. and other NATO countries to withdraw their troops or move them into support roles.
Underscoring the difficulties ahead, the brazen assault occurred just hours after top Afghan and Western officials met in the heart of Kabul to discuss the second phase of shifting security responsibilities to Afghan forces in all or part of 17 of the country’s 34 provinces. Afghans already have the lead in the Afghan capital.
Heavy black smoke poured from the burning wreckage of an armored personnel carrier, known as a Rhino, in Kabul after the bomber struck. The bus had been sandwiched in the middle of a convoy of mine-resistant military vehicles when it was hit along a four-lane highway often used by foreign military trainers in the southwestern part of Kabul.
The landmark Darulaman Palace, the bombed-out seat of former Afghan kings, was the backdrop to the chaotic scene: Shrapnel, twisted pieces of metal and charred human remains littered the street.
U.S. soldiers wept as they pulled bodies from the debris, said Noor Ahmad, a witness at the scene. One coalition soldier was choking inside the burned bus. “The bottom half of his body was burned,” Ahmad said.
NATO said five of its service members and eight civilian contractors working for the coalition died in the attack.
A similar attack occurred on the same road in May 2010 when a suicide bomber struck a NATO convoy, killing 18 people. Among the dead were five U.S. soldiers and Col. Geoff Parker, the highest ranking Canadian to die in Afghanistan.References: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1078150–canadian-soldier-killed-in-afghan-suicide-car-blast-identified http://ca.news.yahoo.com/canadian-soldier-among-13-nato-dead-kabul-suicide-152719988.html