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2 Canadian Peacekeepers Killed in Kabul Landmine Blast - 2003-10-02

Two Canadian peacekeepers were killed and three injured in the Afghan capital, Kabul, when their vehicle ran over a landmine. The incident is under investigation.

The mine explosion occurred Thursday afternoon when two jeeps with the International Security Assistance Force, known as I-SAF, were on a routine patrol in the greater Kabul area.

I-SAF says the lead jeep struck a mine, injuring five occupants, two of whom later died of their wounds. All five were Canadian.

I-SAF Spokesman Squadron Leader Paul Rice says a forensic team is investigating the explosion site and it is still too early to tell whether the incident was an accident or the result of a deliberately planted mine.

But international officials say preliminary indications suggest an accident. Various types of land mines were planted in and around Kabul during the country's civil war in the 1990s.

The I-SAF peacekeeping mission is currently confined to Kabul, but since NATO took over its leadership in August, plans have been under discussion to possibly expand its mandate into Afghanistan's violence-plagued provinces. A decision on the matter is expected within the coming weeks and would likely involve a large increase in the force's current 5,500 troop strength.

I-SAF's presence in Kabul has generally been seen as a source of security within the capital, where terror attacks are very rare, compared with much of the rest of Afghanistan.

The deaths mark the first I-SAF fatalities since June, when four German peacekeepers were killed on their way to the Kabul airport for a flight home.