Soldier dies in non-combat incident in Afghanistan
A Canadian soldier was found dead in Afghanistan on Friday, following what military officials are calling a "non-hostile" incident.
Bombardier Karl Manning, 31, was discovered by fellow soldiers at a military outpost in the former Taliban sanctuary of Zangabad.
Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner announced the death from Kandahar Airfield on Saturday. While little detail on Manning's death was released, Milner confirmed that it was not accidental.
"While an investigation is still ongoing to establish the circumstances surrounding his death, foul play and enemy action have been ruled out," Milner announced.
Manning, a native of Chicoutimi, Que., was an artillery solider and radar operator who had spent most of his tour of duty posted at a remote base in Panjwaii district.
Manning became the 156th Canadian to die during the mission in Afghanistan and the second death of 2011.
Cpl. Yannick Scherrer, 24, was killed by an improvised explosive device while on a foot patrol southwest of Kandahar city on March 27.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper released a statement on Saturday, offering his condolences to Manning's friends and family.
"The Government of Canada is proud of the men and women that serve in Canada's Armed Forces," Harper said. "Their dedication and skill protect the interests and values of Canadians every single day. It is these men and women that make a difference every day in Afghanistan saving lives, contributing to the peace and stability of Afghanistan, as well as the security of Canada."
Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, said Manning's death was a tragic loss for the Canadian Forces.
"Canadians are grateful for Bombardier Manning's service and are proud of the contributions of all the men and women in uniform," MacKay said in a statement.
Governor General David Johnston described Manning's death as "an unimaginable loss" to his friends, family and colleagues.
A Canadian flag flew at full-mast in Kandahar Airfield on Saturday as Milner, Canada's top soldier in Afghanistan, described the circumstances behind Manning's death as a "non-hostile," "non-accident" incident.
"His professionalism and dedication were admired by all," Milner said in a brief statement.
The flag was lowered to half-mast following the announcement, in contrast to other times when flags were lowered the moment headquarters learned of a death.
If ruled a suicide, Manning would be the fourth soldier connected to the Afghan mission to have died by their own hands while posted overseas.
Maj. Michelle Mendes, an intelligence officer, was found dead in April 2009, shortly after being posted at Kandahar Airfield.
Another officer posted to NATO headquarters in Kabul also committed suicide, as did a corporal at Camp Mirage in Dubai.
Following Mendes' death, the Canadian military launched a campaign to improve support for soldiers suffering from mental illness and post-traumatic stress disorder.
There has also been a recent overhaul of the military's suicide prevention program, while a recent study concluded the Forces could do more to reduce workplace and career stress.
Recent figures from the military's health group suggest 16 uniformed members took their lives in 2009 -- double the number reported in 2006, the first year of Canada's current Afghanistan mission.
Between 2005 and 2009, 50 men and five women in uniform have taken their own life.
With files from The Canadian Press