An experienced Canadian soldier on his third tour to Afghanistan, has been killed by an improvised explosive device in the volatile Panjway district in Kandahar.
Sergeant Martin Goudreault, 35, from Sudbury, died on foot patrol near the village of Nakhonay, about 15 kilometers southwest of Kandahar City. The blast occurred at approximately 8 p.m. local time on Sunday.
The Panjway district has become the focus of Canadian military efforts as tens of thousands of U.S. troops surge into southern Afghanistan, taking over much of the fighting in neighbouring districts.
Sgt. Goudreault's patrol was searching for a weapons cache hidden by Taliban insurgents. Soldiers are increasingly finding these stockpiles hidden in Afghan villages, amongst the civilian populations.
It was a routine mission, but a crucial one, according to Brigadier-General Jon Vance, Commander of Task Force Kandahar.
"Soldiers like Martin, both Canadian and Afghan, are working each and every day to find and eliminate these weapons caches," B-Gen. Vance said in a statement delivered to Canadian reporters based at Kandahar Airfield.
Sgt. Goudreault, a fifteen-year veteran of the Canadian forces, was on his fifth overseas deployment. It was his third tour of Afghanistan. His track record was a testament to his dedication.
"Recognized early in his career for his leadership, Sgt. Goudreault was a model soldier; someone the soldiers in his section could look up to and emulate," said B.-Gen Vance.
"Always looking for a challenge, Martin was a qualified combat diver and had the highest personal standards of technical and tactical experience," the commander added.
Sgt. Goudreault was a member of 1 Combat Engineer Regiment based at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, serving with the 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment Battle group.
His death brings to 147 the number of Canadian and military personnel who have died since the Afghan mission began in 2002.
Two civilians - diplomat Glyn Berry and journalist Michelle Lang - have also been killed.
B.-Gen Vance offered his condolences to Sgt. Goudreault's family and friends, while paying tribute to the soldier's commitment.
"Sgt. Goudreault died doing what he loved best; leading his section from the front. His subordinates and superiors alike will remember him as a tireless leader who was passionate about his work," he said.
"If your way of life was in peril, you would want someone like Sgt. Martin Goudreault to show up and offer help," he added.
With The Canadian Press