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Second Canadian dies of Afghan injuries

Written by: Staff
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KABUL, Mar 5 (Reuters) A second Canadian soldier has died of injuries received when an armored vehicle overturned in southern Afghanistan, and another is in serious condition after an axe attack during a meeting with tribal elders.

Master Corporal Timothy Wilson died early today at a US military hospital at Landstuhl in Germany, three days after the vehicle incident in Kandahar province, a Canadian military spokesman said.

Another Canadian, Lieutenant Trevor Greene from British Columbia remained in serious condition and would be evacuated to Landstuhl today. Greene was hit in the head with an axe during a meeting with tribal elders in Kandahar yesterday, The Canadian spokesman, Lieutenant Mark MacIntyre, said Canadian soldiers opened fire and killed Greene's attacker, whose identity was unknown. He said a grenade was also thrown at the gathering, but it caused no casualties.

The death brought Canadian fatalities in Afghanistan to at least 11 since 2001, when US-led forces overthrew the Taliban for refusing to give up Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders responsible for the September 11 attacks on US cities.

Another soldier died Thursday after the vehicle carrying Canadian troops overturned during a patrol near Kandahar.

Canada's defense minister, Gordon O'Connor, said the latest death underscored the risks of Canada's mission in Afghanistan, but said the military was aware of those risks.

''They understand that their presence in Afghanistan is necessary to help the Afghan people have a better future,'' he said in a statement. ''And most of all, they understand that it is necessary to protect Canada from the scourge of terrorism.'' The volatile south of Afghanistan has been hit by a spate of militant-related violence in the past week that coincided with a visit to South Asia by US President George W Bush.

Friday, five soldiers with the 2,300-strong Canadian force in Kandahar were wounded, one seriously, in a suspected suicide car bombing that followed a wave of such attacks in recent months that have killed dozens.

Elsewhere in Kandahar yesterday, a French special forces officer was killed in a clash in which two militants were also reported killed.

The violence has been part of an intensified insurgency that has claimed more than 1,500 lives since the start of last year, the bloodiest period since the Taliban's overthrow.

Militants have also attacked in Helmand province adjoining Kandahar, where British troops are deploying as part of an expanded NATO deployment aimed at allowing Washington to cut its troop numbers in Afghanistan.

REUTERS SY KP1910

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