2 Canadian Troops Killed in Afghanistan

The Associated Press
Monday, November 27, 2006; 1:44 PM

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- A suicide car bomber attacked a Canadian armored vehicle Monday, killing two soldiers a day before NATO leaders gather in Europe for a summit that will focus on the strengthening Taliban insurgency.

A new report, meanwhile, found that despite recent advances in the country's education system, more than half of Afghan children still do not attend school and only one in 20 girls go to secondary school.

The suicide bomber attacked a convoy of military vehicles traveling from the main NATO base in Kandahar to the Panjwayi district, an area that has seen heavy fighting between NATO and the Taliban over the past several months.

"The Taliban cannot defeat us militarily in the field and so from time to time they resort to these very desperate measures," said Brig. Gen. Tim Grant, commander of the Canadian mission in Kandahar. "This was the home where the Taliban movement started. It makes sense the Taliban want to fight here."

A large eight-wheeled armored vehicle was struck in the attack. Shortly after the bombing, a Black Hawk helicopter landed in the middle of the road and NATO troops ferried one of the Canadian causalities into the chopper.

The deaths bring to 44 the number of Canadian troops killed in Afghanistan, including 36 this year alone, the majority of which occurred after the troops moved into the volatile south earlier this summer.

The attack comes a day after a suicide bomber killed 15 Afghans and wounded 24 in a crowded restaurant in southeast Afghanistan.

The escalation in violence follows a period of relative calm in Afghanistan. Although there have been several attempted suicide strikes in the last several weeks, most missed their intended target, killing only the bombers.

The Canadian deaths also come a day before a NATO summit opens in Riga, Latvia, where 26 presidents and prime ministers will focus on Afghanistan and the rising violence here that has killed more than 3,700 people this year.

NATO officials here said the Taliban was likely trying to increase their attacks before the summit: "They are probably aware of the Riga summit and the sensitivities around it and about the issues of debate there," said Lt. Cmdr. Kris Phillips, a Canadian spokesman. "This will have no impact in our operations"

A new report from the aid and development organization Oxfam, meanwhile, said 5 million children now attend school in Afghanistan, up from less than 1 million during the rule of the hard-line Taliban. But 7 million children still do not receive any formal instruction.

Girls, in particular, are on the losing end, with just one in five attending primary school and one in 20 attending secondary school, the report said.

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