Globe and Mail Update
March 4, 2009 at 9:44 AM EST
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — A roadside bomb has claimed the lives of three more Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan as the military mission in this war-wracked country enters what is anticipated to be a long and bloody fighting season.
Warrant Officer Dennis Raymond Brown, a reservist from the Lincoln and Welland Regiment in the Niagara Region, Corporal Dany Oliver Fortin from the 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron in Bagotville, Que., and Corporal Kenneth Chad O'Quinn from the 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Headquarters and Signals Squadron in Petawawa, Ont., were killed when the vehicle in which they were riding ran over a bomb.
The men were members of the Provincial Reconstruction Team based in Kandahar city and were returning from a successful mission to clear a bomb that had been planted in a road. They were part of what is called the Quick Reaction Force that has been established to respond to all types of emergencies, including roadside bombs.
Two other soldiers were injured and taken by helicopter to the military hospital at the Kandahar Air Field, where they were listed as being in good condition. Their names were not being released.
"Canada lost three outstanding soldiers," Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance, the Commander of Task Force Kandahar told reporters. They were "men who were dedicated to their country, to making a difference here in Afghanistan so that others could have a hope of a peaceful and stable life."
The explosion occurred during in the Arghandab district northwest of Kandahar city late Tuesday afternoon. The Arghandab is normally one of the safer areas around Kandahar but there has been a spate of attacks there in recent weeks, a signal that the Taliban is preparing to expand the region that is under their control.
The deaths bring the Canadian toll in Afghanistan to 111.
Warrant Officer Brown was the father of four children who was also a special constable with the local police force.
"He was devoted to his unit and was never afraid of taking on new and challenging tasks as a reservist," said Brig.-Gen. Vance.
Cpl. Fortin, who was known as Dany O to his friends, loved adventure and "was a remarkable person" of intelligence, sincerity and profound ethics, said the Brigadier General. He leaves behind a fiancé, as well as his mother and sister.
Cpl. O'Quinn "was a highly motivated soldier who always sought to physically and mentally challenge himself and others around him," said Brig.-Gen. Vance. "He believed he could accomplish anything and everyone in his life had the same faith in him."
As the weather warms, attacks by the Taliban traditionally increase in frequency.
This year, the growing strength of the insurgency, the looming presidential elections and the influx of American troops to the dangerous southern region of the country are expected to elevate the conflict.
Major Robert Dunn, the task force operations officer, said the report of the explosive device that the soldiers were dispatched to diffuse was called in shortly after noon on Tuesday by the Afghan National Police.
It was on a major supply route "and it was deemed not safe to be left there unattended," said Major Dunn. The Canadian troops took that bomb out of the ground but ran over another on their return trip.
"The Arghandab may be increasing in insurgent activity," said Major Dunn. "Specifically, we have had four IED finds and strike in the last two week."
It is clear, he said that the war is moving from a winter campaign to a spring offensive.
Full fighting season doesn't generally start until May. But "at this stage of the game," said Major Dunn, "insurgents are moving weapons and relying upon their key threats of IEDs when they don't have a lot of insurgents on the ground."
Click to view image: 'Corporal Kenneth Chad O’Quinn (left), Warrant Of'
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