Canadian soldier kills 10 year old Afghan boy

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The shooting death by Canadian troops of a 10 year-old boy in Afghanistan has raised fears of a backlash and retaliation. The boy was shot and a teenager injured at around 5pm local time yesterday when, while driving a motorcycle, they sped through a roadblock cordoning off the scene of a suicide bombing. A soldier fired a bullet which passed through the 17 year-old driver and killed the boy. Military authorities are investigating the incident.

"A motorcycle carrying two people broke through the Afghan National Police outer security cordon at high speed," said Colonel Fred Lewis, deputy commander of the Canadian contingent of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. "The driver failed to heed multiple warnings to stop as he headed towards the inner Canadian cordon. A Canadian ISAF soldier then opened fire in a defensive application of our rules of engagement. A single round struck both the driver and the passenger of the motorcycle."

Lewis doubts soldiers had time to fire warning shots due to the speed of the oncoming motorcycle. He also said that while no explosives were found on the vehicle he had a "sneaking suspicion" that soldiers feared the motorcycle carried a second suicide bomber and acted defensively. He added that he was concerned that the Taliban would try to exploit the incident for propaganda purposes and that he was concerned about a possible backlash by locals.

"I would be concerned about it and I think we need to pass the right message to the Afghan people," he said. "The message is that we're here to help them and we certainly would never want to hurt them."

Relatives of the boys were at the gates of the Canadian military base last night demanding answers.

Corporal David Braun was killed in the suicide attack which occurred two hours before the shooting. Three other soldiers were wounded but are listed in good condition. An Afghan child also died in the blast which occurred when a suicide bomber rammed his car into a Canadian convoy on patrol in Kandahar.

Corporal Braun is the 27th Canadian soldier to die since Canadian military operations in Afghanistan began in late 2001 as part of the American led "War on Terror".

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