Canadian soldier killed by IED in Afghanistan
A Canadian soldier on foot patrol in southern Afghanistan was killed Monday by an improvised explosive device in the volatile Panjwaii district.
Pte. Alexandre (Pelo) Peloquin, 20, of the 3e Battalion, Royal 22e Regiment, was based at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier near Quebec City.
Peloquin's hometown has not been released, but it's believed to be Brownsburg, Quebec. He is survived by his mother, Monique.
"Pelo, as named by his friends, was a strong man, remarkably fit and very courageous," said Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance, the senior commander in Kandahar province.
"His family and friends should be very proud of him, and so should all Canadians, for he represented the very best of Canada."
No other soldiers were injured in the explosion, which occurred around 9:20 a.m. local time in Nakhoney, a village about 15 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement expressing sorrow and offering condolences to Peloquin's family and friends.
"I join with Canadians who stand proudly with our men and women of the Canadian Forces as they courageously risk their lives every day to bring peace and security to the people of Afghanistan," Harper's statement said.
Despite the dangers of the job, in a recent Facebook message from Afghanistan, Peloquin told friends "it's hot, but I love my job.'
Peloquin was taking part in a six-day operation to locate and defuse improvised explosive devices. According to Vance, the team confiscated 15 IEDs as well as material that could be used to make hundreds more of the deadly weapons.
"The local population is extremely happy and wants us to continue," Vance said.
"Pte. Peloquin was part of a successful operation, and he contributed to that success today."
Vance praised Peloquin for his "outstanding" dedication to the Afghan mission, and said the young soldier "will be missed."
The Canadian Press reporter Colin Perkel said the blast occurred in "a very dangerous area," which Canadian soldiers have dubbed one corner of Panjwaii's Taliban triangle.
"It's a very well-known hub of insurgent activity that goes back at least two or three years," Perkel told CTV News Channel Monday in a telephone interview from Afghanistan. "The local population tends to be hostile to the international military presence and the military here believes it is used as a staging area and logistics hub for insurgent attacks on Kandahar city itself."
Perkel said that because Canadian soldiers patrol the area so frequently, they were the likely target of the attacks.
Peloquin's death brings to 119 the total number of Canadian soldiers to die during the Afghanistan mission since it began in 2002.