Monday, February 12, 2007

Canadian troops fire on Afghan army convoy ...

Canadian troops fire on Afghan army convoy, wounding one allied soldier

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CP) -
An Afghan army soldier was wounded early Monday in a shooting incident involving Canadian troops.

The incident happened on road east of Kandahar city and involved soldiers in a Canadian re-supply convoy that was returning to the local airfield, NATO's main military base in the region. Military police have ordered an investigation into the shooting, said Lt.-Cmdr. Kris Phillips, a spokesman for the Canadian Forces.

"Incidents such as this are very regrettable and we try to take all reasonable steps to avoid them. However, they do, from time to time, occur," he said.

"We've also been in constant contact with the ANA (Afghan National Army) authorities and commanders in the local area. There will be further meetings and discussions with representatives of the ANA to determine how we can work together to prevent this from happening again."

An Afghan Army convoy of pickup trucks approached a security cordon set up around a disabled RG-31 Nyala patrol vehicle. Phillips said the shooting took place when the driver of the lead pickup refused orders to stop.

"I think naturally people would be a little bit upset with this sort of incident. I know we're upset. It's not the kind of thing we like to see happen," he said.

The wounded Afghan soldier was taken to a civilian hospital for treatment for what are thought to be injuries to his arm.

Elsewhere in southern Afghanistan Monday, gunbattles and ambushes left at least six Taliban fighters and five Afghan police dead. U.S.-led coalition forces said several other Taliban fighters died during an assault targeting a senior Taliban leader.

In Uruzgan province, NATO forces and Afghan police and soldiers battled suspected Taliban militants for five hours near the town of Tirin Kot late Sunday, said Qayum Qayumi, the provincial governor's spokesman.

Six Taliban fighters and three police were killed, while another 12 suspected Taliban were arrested and several guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers were recovered, he said.

Two police died and a third was wounded in neighbouring Zabul province when suspected Taliban militants ambushed a police vehicle Sunday night, said Ghulam Jalali, a highway police commander. One policeman and one Taliban fighter were wounded in a gunbattle, he said.

The U.S.-led coalition said "several" Taliban fighters died during an assault by coalition forces and the Afghan army early Monday near the town of Gereshk in Helmand province.

The coalition said Taliban militants initiated the fight by firing a rocket-propelled grenade at coalition and Afghan forces.

"Forces then engaged and killed the Taliban fighters," a coalition statement said. It said officials hadn't yet determined the number of fighters killed.

The assault was conducted based on information about a senior Taliban leader operating in Kandahar who has ties to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, the statement said. It did not identify the targeted leader.

Canadian Forces probe wounding of Afghan soldier
CBC February 12, 2007

The Canadian Forces are investigating an incident in which one of their own shot and wounded an Afghan soldier Monday morning.

The shooting occurred when a Canadian convoy and a group of Afghan military vehicles crossed paths along a highway in Kandahar at about 7 a.m., the Canadian military said.

A Canadian vehicle had broken down and troops had set up a defensive perimeter around it. While repairs were being done, an Afghan National Army convoy approached.

"At that time, for whatever reason, it appears shots were fired by the Canadians at the ANA convoy," said Lt.-Cmdr. Kris Phillips.

The lead vehicle in the Afghan convoy apparently approached too closely, Phillips said, and may not have heeded signals to stop, prompting a Canadian soldier to open fire using a mounted machine gun.

"The vehicle was hit and the driver of that vehicle was injured," said Phillips, a spokesman for the International Security Force in Afghanistan.

Phillips said the driver was taken to hospital and reports from the Afghan army suggest he was not seriously wounded by the burst of fire, but suffered injuries to his arm.

Angry responses came from the Afghan soldiers, but "cooler heads prevailed" after interpreters helped the soldiers communicate, Phillips said.

Canadian troops are in the process of rotating troops through Afghanistan. Whether this was a case of a new soldier overreacting will be part of a Canadian Forces investigation into the matter, Phillips said.

The shooting incident comes as the Senate defence committee is set to present a harsh report on Monday that includes an 11-point strategy on how to improve Canada's mission in Afghanistan.