U.S., Canadian soldiers killed in Taliban attack

Associated Press
Published March 30, 2006

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Taliban militants launched a rare attack on a coalition base in southern Afghanistan Wednesday, killing an American and a Canadian soldier and sparking fierce U.S.-led retaliation that left 32 insurgents dead in the bloodiest fighting in months.

The attack came a day after at least 10 people were killed in two roadside bombings and reflected a growing intensity of militant assaults after the Taliban warned of a renewed offensive this year.

"Over the last five or six weeks there have been various proven attacks mainly at night by the Taliban on that base, but I think it is fair to say this is the largest we have seen thus far," Col. Chris Vernon, a British spokesman, told reporters in Kandahar. The battle began hours after Taliban insurgents ambushed an Afghan supply convoy as it returned to the remote forward operating base late Tuesday, killing eight Afghan soldiers, Vernon said.

U.S. and British warplanes and helicopters were called in to provide air support and a Canadian quick reaction force was sent from Kandahar to the base, where a small contingent of American and Canadian soldiers are stationed with Afghan troops in the Sangin district of Helmand province.

Early Wednesday, the base came under a "significant Taliban attack," during which the Canadian and American soldiers were killed, Vernon said. At least five coalition troops were wounded, including three Canadians and an American, officials said.