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Canadian Peacekeeper, Civilian Killed in Afghan Attack - 2004-01-27

An apparent suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, has killed a Canadian peacekeeper and at least one civilian. Three other Canadian soldiers and nine bystanders are reported wounded from the blast.

The explosion struck a Canadian military convoy near Camp Julian, a base for NATO-led international peacekeepers charged with security in the Afghan capital.

Major Kevin Arata, a spokesman for the peacekeeping force, says the blast occurred Tuesday morning and was probably a deliberate attack on the troops.

"It may have been a suicide bomber that caused that explosion," he said, "and we've got a quick reaction force at the scene to investigate the incident and to secure the site."

He says it is the first major attack on the peacekeepers since October, when a mine, which is believed to have been deliberately planted, killed two Canadians.

But Major Arata adds that this latest incident will not affect the force's operations in the country. "Security has always been an issue," he stressed. "It's something we always have to be aware of. That's what we're here for - our job is to provide a stable and secure environment, and unfortunately incidents like this do happen. But the mission will continue."

Afghanistan suffers from a long-running anti-government insurgency, led by remnants of the country's former hard line Taleban regime.

Violent incidents inside Kabul are rare, however, with the majority of insurgent attacks confined to cities and villages in the southern and eastern border areas.

The Kabul-based peacekeepers have begun expanding their presence into the provinces in order to provide security against militant attacks on Afghanistan's post-war reconstruction work.

U.S. and Afghan forces, meanwhile, continue to provide the bulk of military action against the insurgents through a series of ongoing campaigns aimed at bases of the Taleban and other militant anti-government groups.