Roadside bomb kills Canadian soldier, injures two others

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Canadian soldier observes troop movements from the turret of a Canadian Army Cougar wheeled armored fire-support vehicle, CFB Wainwright, Alberta, Canada.

The 55th Canadian soldier was killed in Afghanistan, when a large roadside bomb exploded. The blast killed Matthew J. McCully, 25, from Orangeville, Ontario on Friday at approximately 8:00 a.m. local time.

Another Canadian soldier and an Afghan interpreter are in stable condition after also being wounded in the explosion, which happened in the Zhari district, 35 kilometres west of Kandahar, Afghanistan, where the Canadians are based.

"The wounds suffered are non-life threatening and he has spoken to his family," said deputy commander of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, Col. Mike Cessford. "The Afghan interpreter was slightly wounded and chose to remain with Canadians doing his duties."

Earlier in the same day, a roadside bomb struck a Canadian tank, but no injuries were incurred. The second bomb killed McCully, who is part of the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team which teaches Afghan soldiers skills to fight in organized units, from Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Petawawa.

They were fighting in Operation Hoover located in the Zhari district west of Kandahar, Canada's latest offensive against the Taliban. Portuguese soldiers and British air support are also involved in the operation and the Afghan National Army are in the lead.

"As this soldier was moving forward, with other Canadians and other Afghan soldiers, an IED was triggered and he was killed," Cessford said. "We lost a good kid today. We're thinking about him and our thoughts are going out to the family. It's a pretty sad day. He was doing what he needed to do, what he wanted to do, and he was working closely with Afghan soldiers to achieve the right thing for this country."

He is the 55th Canadian to die in Afghanistan. Canadian troops have been stationed in Afghanistan since 2002, and there are approximately 2,500 Canadian troops currently deployed there.

A farewell ceremony is now in the works at Kandahar Airfield. He will then be brought by plane to Canada, where a funeral will take place with his family and friends.

"Matt McCully was a tremendously professional soldier," Maj. Peter Sullivan told CTV today at Kandahar Airfield. "I found him certainly to be a mature young man, and somebody whose company was enjoyed by all, so he will be greatly missed."

This same week, on Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a surprise visit to Afghanistan. He met with Canadian soldiers and had a brief discussion with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and visited diplomats at the Canadian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Journalists were told last Friday to dress for a warm-climate and if they made Harper's visit public they could be a "Journalist in jail." [1]

"I would say it's very interesting they decided to really promote the fact that we're doing more than just military in Afghanistan," Harper said during his three-day visit.

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