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Anna Thede had been counting the days until she would next see her fiancé, Private Joel Vincent Wiebe.

After months of separation, the young couple were planning to meet next week in Europe for a holiday. Instead, the Edmonton woman received the devastating news yesterday that Pte. Wiebe, 22, had been one of three Canadian soldiers killed while on patrol in Afghanistan. They died when a roadside bomb detonated under a small all-terrain vehicle they were using to ferry supplies between checkpoints.

Ms. Thede told reporters that her family and Pte. Wiebe's planned to release a public statement tomorrow.

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On Ms. Thede's personal Facebook page, she wrote she is "heartbroken that her Joel is gone." The couple had been planning a winter wedding.

Pte. Wiebe's sisters also wrote similar messages on their personal Facebook pages. His 24-year-old sister, Amanda Wiebe, wrote she was devastated "by the loss of her beautiful baby brother." His 27-year-old sister Marcie Beech wrote she was "mourning the loss of my baby brother!!!! May he rest in peace. Love you Joel!!!!"

Before Pte. Wiebe left on his first tour of duty this winter, he and another soldier, Sean Williams, were honoured by their families and friends during a celebration held at a community hall in southeastern Edmonton in January. Guests were asked to bring school supplies for Canadian soldiers to give Afghan children.

Katherine Harding, Edmonton

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