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Sgt. James Patrick Macneil, 28, was killed after an improvised explosive device detonated during a foot patrol, about 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City on 21 June 2010.

A Canadian soldier, on his fourth tour in Afghanistan, has been killed by an improvised explosive device in Kandahar's volatile Panjwai district.

Sergeant James Macneil, a 28-year-old from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, had been recently promoted and honoured as the Top Master Corporal in 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group.

He was killed while on a joint foot patrol with the Afghan National Army near the village of Nakhonay, about twenty kilometers southwest of Kandahar City.

Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance, Canada's top commander in Afghanistan, paid tribute to the fallen soldier, a 10-year-veteran of the Canadian Forces, in a statement delivered to reporters at Kandahar Airfield.

"A man with a big heart, Jimmy was known and recognized within his Regiment as the epitome of excellence and professionalism," Brig.-Gen. Vance said.

Sgt. Macneil was proud of his Cape Breton heritage and he was remembered as an easy-going and friendly.

"Sgt. Macneil had the ability to get a laugh out of anyone and his troops agree he was a fun guy to work for … he couldn't say no to a social gathering, and was inevitably the life of the party," Brig.-Gen. Vance remarked.

Over the last few months, Canadian soldiers have stepped up operations in the Panjwai district, which Taliban insurgents have fought to control.

Their weapon of choice remains IEDs. Brig.-Gen. Vance stressed the importance of presence patrols in the area to bolster the Afghan population's sense of security.

"Insurgent forces use Improvised Explosive Devices to instill fear in the local population and restrict the efforts of those attempting to aid and protect that population," he said.

"For each IED Canadian soldiers find and disarm, Afghan lives are spared, and the process of rebuilding their community can continue. Through constant patrolling and maintaining a presence in the local community, Afghans know to trust both Canadian and Afghan soldiers and respect their efforts to bring them security from all sources of harm," he continued.

Sgt. Macneil is the 148th member of the Canadian Forces killed serving in the Afghan mission. On June 6, Sergeant Martin Goudreault, 35, was on a foot patrol investigating a suspected weapons cache near Nakhonay when he was killed by a blast from an IED.

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