KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — One Canadian soldier has been killed in a powerful roadside bomb blast while on foot patrol in a volatile community southwest of Kandahar City.
The attack that killed Pte. Tyler William Todd, 26, happened early Sunday near the community of Belanday, about eight kilometres outside of the provincial capital.
Brig.-Gen. Dan Menard, the commander of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, says Todd was on a routine patrol to learn more about the people of the village and their needs when the bombing happened.
“His enthusiasm and strong will were inspirational to his platoon,” Menard said in a prepared statement. “He was doing what he loved to do — being a soldier operating alongside friends.”
It is unclear if any other soldiers were wounded in the attack. The Canadian military no longer releases information on battlefield injuries.
Todd would have been only weeks away from completing a six month tour. His death comes as the U.S. pours thousands of reinforcements into Kandahar province and NATO continues planning for a spring offensive.
The Belanday area is a known transit route for Taliban fighters, who use the arid grape and wheat fields as staging areas for attacks into the city itself.
It has also become an increasingly troublesome region.
The explosion on Sunday happened in Dand district, the same region where journalist Michelle Lang and four Canadian soldiers were killed on Dec. 30, 2009.
It was also just east of where a roadside bomb in the town of Nakhoney claimed the life of 44-year-old Sgt. John Faught in January.
Canadian and Afghan troops fought their way through Nakhoney and the surrounding area in a major operation last November. Just the mention of the town causes seasoned soldiers with the battle group to wince.
Last month, the Canadian battle group supported an Afghan National Army sweep of villages further southwest of Belanday in neighbouring Panjwaii district. The three-day operation netted only two prisoners and no weapons caches.
Villagers claimed they had chased the Taliban out of the area.
NATO commanders said following Operation Sher (Lion) II that they were confident most of the approaches to the city were secure. They were ready to focus their attention on far-flung western parts of the volatile district, where Canadian soldiers have fought repeated engagements with the Taliban.
Menard took no questions from reporters about the incident, but instead praised Todd as a person.
“Tyler was a practical joker; he would often hide rocks and candies in the other soldier’s bed spaces,” he said. “He never allowed the small things to get to him and was often the rock that other soldiers could depend on.”
Todd was from Kitchener, Ont., but based in Edmonton with the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
His death brings to 142 the number of Canadian soldiers killed since the Afghan mission began. The last solder to pass away, Cpl. Darren Fitzpatrick, was mortally wounded March 6, but died in an Edmonton hospital two weeks later.
Meanwhile, also on Sunday, four Afghan civilians were killed and 16 others wounded during a mine clearing operation in Kandahar’s Dand district.
Afghan Police are investigating and suggested that insurgents may have been responsible because there were two explosions. The first blast left dead and wounded at the site and a second explosion occurred when a rescue team arrived, a tactic often used by insurgents.