KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — A young Canadian soldier who had escaped death in an earlier encounter with an improvised explosive device was killed Tuesday while on a foot patrol southwest of Kandahar city.
Sapper Brian Collier, 24, had dismounted from his vehicle in the village of Nakhonay, 15 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city, when he was killed by an IED blast.
It’s the first Canadian death in Afghanistan since June 26, when two medics — Master Cpl. Kristal Giesebrecht, 34 and Pte. Andrew Miller, 21 — died. Their vehicle had also detonated an IED.
“Canadian soldiers are in a constant struggle with insurgents in places like Nakhonay and elsewhere in the Panjwaii district,” said Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance, the commander of Task Force Kandahar.
“We are working so diligently in the Panjwaii district so that we can bring about the sort of positive changes that have resulted from our operations over the past year in neighbouring Dand district. We seek to do the same in Panjwaii over the next year.”
Collier had been wounded earlier on this tour of duty.
“Previously injured in a separate IED strike, Sapper Collier fought hard to overcome his injury in order to get back to doing his job with his comrades,” said Vance.
“Today, the entire task force — both military and civilian — is mourning our fallen comrade. Any Canadian who could have seen Brian in action would have been proud of him and proud of our country for the work being done with and for Afghans,” he added.
Collier was born in Toronto and raised in Bradford, Ont.
A member of 1 Combat Engineer Regiment based at CFB Edmonton, he was serving in Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group. It was his first deployment to Afghanistan.
Vance said Collier was known for his easygoing nature and sense of humour, and was an automobile enthusiast who loved to spend time with his Audi.
The latest death brings to 151 the total number of Canadian military personnel who have died as part of the Afghanistan mission since it began in 2002.
IEDs have been the single biggest cause of death among Canadian troops in Afghanistan.
Eleven out of the 13 Canadian deaths this year were the result of an IED blast. In all, 92 of the 151 Canadian fatalities in the eight-year-old mission came about from IEDs — which include roadside bombs and certain other type of explosives, according to the Department of National Defence.
Two civilians — diplomat Glyn Berry and journalist Michelle Lang — have also been killed in Canada’s mission to Afghanistan.