Canadian dies in Afghan blast

Globe and Mail Update

Kandahar, Afghanistan — On a day that was to be reserved for the pomp and ceremony of the Canadian battlegroup’s change of command here, soldiers are instead mourning the death of Canada’s 117th casualty in Afghanistan.

Trooper Karine Blais, 21, was only the second Canadian female soldier to die in combat. She lost her life around 5 p.m. Monday in the often mountainous district of Shah Wali Kowt, north of Kandahar city, when the vehicle she was riding in struck a deadly improvised explosive device.

“This young woman’s life did not go to waste,” said Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance in a statement released Tuesday morning in Kandahar. “Her life was lost in the pursuit of peace and stability,” he said.

Trooper Blais, from 12e Régiment Blindé du Canada based at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier, was serving with the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group – the famed francophone regiment nicknamed the Van Doos. She had only been on the ground in Kandahar for two weeks.

“She was an energetic soldier who gave 100 per cent to every challenge she faced, using a unique sense of humour, based on her honesty,” Brig.-Gen. Vance said. “Frank and direct, she demonstrated the qualities of a future leader who was respected by all members of her squadron,” he said.

Four of Trooper Blais’ comrades were also injured in the blast. They were ultimately airlifted to the medical facility at Kandahar air field following the incident, although fierce sand and rain storms delayed the helicopter Monday night.

Two remained in hospital Tuesday morning.

This is the Quebec-based battlegroup’s first death on their six-month tour. Although it officially begins Tuesday, soldiers have been phased into their posts across Kandahar over the past couple of weeks.

“The days and months ahead will be extremely difficult for those who knew Karine, and we must stand together to support all of those for whom she had a profound effect,” said Brig.-Gen. Vance. “Her dedication to the overall mission is commendable.”

Trooper Blais leaves behind her mother Josée, her grandmother Laurette and one brother, Billy.

Young love, Spring time and Sharia

young-love

Afghan Taliban execute eloping pair: official

From yahoo news

HERAT, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Taliban militants publicly executed a man and girl on Monday for eloping when she was already engaged to marry someone else, an official said, in a sign of the grip the Islamists have over parts of Afghanistan. Hashim Noorzai, head of Khash Rud district in southwestern Nimruz province, said the two were executed by gun shots in front of a crowd of villagers.He said he had no details on how the Taliban had come to be involved in passing judgment on them but that much of the mainly desert district was under control of the militants. Nimruz is a sparsely-populated area near the Iranian and Pakistani borders where foreign or government troops have little presence. Like much of the south of the country, it has become a stronghold for Taliban fighters who were driven out of Kabul by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in 2001 but are making a comeback in the south and east.A Taliban-led insurgency against Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government has grown in recent years, and the militants have occasionally carried out their form of justice, including public executions, in towns and villages under their control. Taliban spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.

Womens Rights Activist Murdered in Afghanistan

Sitara Achakzi

Sitara Achakzi

From the Globe and Mail April12-2009

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN — In the hour before her killers pulled up beside the rickshaw and shot her at close range, Sitara Achakzai turned to a female politician riding beside her with a strange look.

“I’m not afraid of death,” said Ms. Achakzai, a well-known women’s rights advocate and one of three elected women sitting on Kandahar’s provincial council. “I can go and get killed and it’s no big deal.”

Ms. Achakzai’s friend, a provincial councillor who narrowly escaped death in a bombing at council headquarters less than two weeks ago, was so stunned by the comment, made just before the rickshaw pulled up to her stop, she got out without asking what prompted the revelation. Not long after, news came yesterday that she would never have another chance.

Ms. Achakzai, a dual Afghan and German citizen who returned to help rebuild her country in 2004, was shot at close range by gunmen on motorbikes before her rickshaw could finish the slow crawl back to her home. Continue Reading →