KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Canada’s new counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan will be put to the test after an IED blast Friday killed Sapper Steven Marshall near one of its showcase model villages, the second Canadian death in three days.
Marshall, 24, of 11 Field Squadron 1 Combat Engineer Regiment based in Edmonton was struck while on a late-afternoon patrol through Panjwaii district, 10 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city. There were no other casualties.
The military said he was conducting a foot patrol when the incident happened.
His death contributes to a rough start for the current rotation of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, with whom Marshall deployed less than a week ago.
Fellow Princess Pat Lieut. Justin Boyes, 26, was killed by an IED on Wednesday morning, only 10 days into his mission.
“At the time of his death, Steven was working toward securing the Panjwaii district in order to provide a more stable environment for the Afghan population living there,” Task Force Commander Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance said Friday.
“A stable environment is the best defence against insurgents, because they have no way to counter the positive effects that soldiers like Steven bring to bear.”
A Canadian Press reporter who was at a platoon house in Belanday heard the explosion more than a kilometre away, which was followed by a brief burst of small-arms fire. There were conflicting reports about whether the gunfire was directed at the base.
Griffon attack helicopters and infantry teams were dispatched to secure the area while Marshall was taken by helicopter to the military hospital at Kandahar Airfield.
He is the 133rd Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan since the mission began in 2002.