Saturday, November 17, 2007

Two Canadians die amid flare-ups in Canadian zone

A roadside bomb in Kandahar's Zhari district killed two Canadian soldiers and their interpreter early Satruday morning. Three other CFers were injured. Zhari district, adjacent to Panjwai district has been the scene of several security incidents in recent days. According to Bill Graveland's account in the Globe and Mail, the attack marks the end of "Two months of relative calm" in that district. That depiction squares nicely with pronouncements from NATO spokespeople, yet seems to be contradicted by other NATO officials quoted later in Graveland's piece.

“The area is pretty active in terms of insurgent activity,” [Colonel Juneau] said. ...

Despite several skirmishes and plenty of activity, the two deaths Saturday are the first since Sept. 24.
Agence France Presse's correspondent writes that Zhari district "sees regular attacks by Taliban fighters".

Later in the day Saturday, "Canadian and Afghan troops battled militants and called in airstrikes in Zhari district," reportedly killing 20 insurgents, according to Graveland (above).

Also Saturday, insurgent attacks and clashed occurred in Helmand, Ghor province (in the north), and Nangarhar (in the east).

This violence comes during what appears to be a broad Taliban offensive, which I blogged about last week. Evidence of the continued campaign can perhaps be glimpsed on the US Air Force's site. The Nov 15 Air Power Summary reveals an unusually high number of Close Air Support missions - 51. The number of CAS per day has lately averaged in the high 30's, with 44 being rather high. Further the summary mentions two CAS missions in Kabul. One by an F-18, the other by a B-1 bomber, and both in order to deter enemy activity. Also, two missions over Bagram are mentioned - and both, again, to "deter enemy activity". Bagram, of course, houses the biggest US air base in the region.

Anyway, the air summary also tells of missions to Paktia province, Paktika province, Kunar province, a couple of attacks in Uruzgan province, and a couple of clashes in Helmand.

Canadians kill civilian
Thursday in Kandahar City, Canadian soldiers fired on civilians in a taxi, killing one and injuring another. The vehicle's driver had apparently ignored visual signals to stop. According to the CBC:
The military said it was applying "escalation of force" rules. Vehicles on the highway are supposed to pull over to let a convoy pass. If the vehicle doesn't stop, warning shots may be fired or lethal force may be used.
By coincidence this week, previously classified documents were released showing that Canadian soldiers fire at civilian vehicles about once a week for getting too close to convoys or approaching checkpoints at high speed. The soldiers, of course, are guarding against suicide attacks on NATO convoys and patrols. Doing the math: Canadian soldiers have thusly killed at least 9 civilians and injured 22, according to the documents. Meanwhile, at least 12 Canadian soldiers have been killed by suicide attacks on convoys.

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