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Canadian soldier dies, three injured in Afghanistan

Written by: Staff
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MONTREAL, Mar 29 (Reuters) A Canadian soldier was killed and three others injured in Afghanistan when insurgents attacked them in the country's Helmand province, Canada's Department of National Defence said today.

In a statement from Ottawa, National Defence said Canada's Private Robert Costall was killed in the attack.

One other coalition soldier was also killed in the incident, which took place about 70 miles (110 km) northwest of Kandahar and included insurgent fire with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms, the department said.

Earlier, the Pentagon had indicated that one of the foreign troops killed was American.

Another coalition soldier and a soldier from the Afghan National Army, were also wounded in the incident, Canada's National Defence said. U S-led forces killed an unconfirmed number of insurgents in the battle, it added.

The incident occurred at approximately 0245 hrs local time, National Defence said.

The identities of the injured Canadian soldiers are being withheld, as they are expected to return to duty, the department said. All of the soldiers were part of the Canadian Battle Group based on the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry stationed in Edmonton, Alberta.

Costall was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

With today's loss in Helmand province, 11 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed and 36 soldiers injured since Canada first deployed soldiers in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Canada now has 2,300 soldiers in the southern city of Kandahar, where it commands a multinational task force. As casualties have mounted some Canadians have begun questioning the mission and demanding a debate in Parliament.

Insurgents have stepped up attacks in recent months in a bid to to drive out foreign soldiers and defeat Afghanistan's Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

Immediately after today's incident, a U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter flew the casualties to the coalition hospital at Kandahar Airfield, Canada's National Defence said.

REUTERS SB DS1200

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