Slain Canadian soldier was nine days from home
Date: Tuesday, January 27 2004
Topic: International News
The Canadian soldier killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan on Tuesday was barely a week away from being rotated home, his grieving family said.
Corporal Jamie Brendan Murphy, 26, was killed on patrol in Kabul when a man leaped onto his lightly-armoured Iltis battle jeep and blew himself up. Three other Canadian soldiers were wounded.
His body will be sent home with all the dignity he deserves, Chief of Defence Staff General Ray Hénault said, as soon as arrangements can be made.
Small consolation for his family, which had been expecting him to arrive back in Canada on Feb. 5.
Cpl. Murphy's family, in Conception Harbour, Nfld., was devastated by the news, delivered early Tuesday.
Interviewed by the CBC with her husband and two daughters, a framed photo of Cpl. Murphy on the wall, his mother said that she had worried about his chosen career but realized that he took great pride from his role in the military, which had included a tour of duty in Kosovo.
His mother, Alice, said that he recognized the dangers implicit in the Afghan mission, and had been heartbroken when compatriot Robbie Beerenfenger, also based at Ontario's CFB Petawa, was killed by a landmine last fall.
A two-vehicle patrol convoy was attacked shortly after it left the Canadian base, Camp Julien, in western Kabul. It was driving on a well-travelled road near the Old King's Palace when it slowed down momentarily.
There was a bump in the road, and when they slowed down to pass over it, a terrorist jumped on one of the vehicles and blew himself up, district police chief Ali Jan Askaryar said.
A Taliban spokesman took responsibility for the attack, saying that it was the start of a campaign of suicide bombings that will be continued until the coalition forces leave our country.
Cpl. Murphy's sister, Norma, reacted sharply to the news, saying that there was no point trying to keep peace if it's not wanted.
Those people, they don't know what peace is, I don't think, she told the CBC crew. They don't want anybody over there. They don't want Canadians, they don't want Americans. They're over there trying to keep peace for people who don't want it. What's the point of it? All of these people are losing their lives.
Also wounded in the attack were Lieutenant Jason Matthew Feyko, 30, of Peterborough, Ont., Corporal Richard Michael Newman, 23, of Hartland, N.B., and Corporal Jeremy Gerald MacDonald, 30, of Burnt Islands, Nfld. The men are being treated for their injuries, none of which are considered life-threatening, by military medics in Kabul.
One Afghan civilian was killed and eight others were injured in the attack.
The Iltis was roundly criticized in October when two soldiers patrolling in one of the small vehicles were killed by a landmine. Most of the vehicles will be replaced by the heavier Mercedes Geländewagens (dubbed G-Wagons by the Canadians), though the first of them will not be in Kabul for weeks.
In Ottawa, Gen. Hénault took pains on Tuesday to argue that a more durable vehicle would not necessarily have protected the men from injury.
There is no real protection against a determined suicide bomber, he told reporters. I don't think the type of vehicle had any bearing.
Military brass have defended the Iltis, saying that its open design allows troops to talk to and build relationships with the people they are protecting. Even when the G-Wagons arrive 60 are expected in Kabul in February, with scores more arriving in March and April will not be able to not replace all the functions of the Iltis.
The patrol was part of the Royal Canadian Regiment contingent in Kabul, which started returning to Canada last week. The troops were among nearly 2,000 Canadians stationed in Afghanistan. Canadians account for about 40 per cent of the international force in Afghanistan, which has soldiers from 34 countries.
Canada will take over command of ISAF from Germany in a formal ceremony slated for Feb. 10. Lieutenant-General Rick Hillier will take command.
Although there has been regular violence in Afghanistan by Taliban and al-Qaeda loyalists, private militias and bandits, suicide attacks are not often seen.
By OLIVER MOORE
Source: The Globe and Mail