Canadian death toll hits 78 in Afghanistan

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Jan. 16 he believes NATO forces currently deployed in southern Afghanistan “don’t know how to do counterinsurgency operations.” Most of the NATO troops in the south are British, Canadian and Dutch, while those in the north are US. Washington has just announced the temporary deployment of 3,200 Marines to southern Afghanistan to quell the rising number of attacks. (LAT, Jan. 16) The day before Gates’ remarks, Trooper Richard Renaud, 26, of Quebec was killed by a roadside bomb in Kandahar’s Zhari district, leaving behind a pregnant wife and a 4-year-old stepson. His death brings the Canadian death toll in Afghanistan to 78, including one diplomat. (Toronto Star, CanWest, Jan. 16) The UK has lost 86 troops in Afghanistan; the Netherlands have lost 14. Total coalition fatalities stand at 760, with 480 from the US. 2007 was by far the bloodiest year, with 232 fatalities. (Coalition Casualty Count, Jan. 16)

See our last posts on Afghanistan and Canada.

  1. Karzai: NATO in Afghanistan for ten more years
    From AFP, Dec. 21:

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in an interview that his war-torn country will need foreign troops for at least another decade.

    “I believe it will take another 10 years, at least 10 years,” he told Bild newspaper when asked for how much longer the country will need German troops.

    “We need more time. The destruction was massive. Rebuilding Afghanistan will take longer than we thought.”

    Karzai said the most important step in restoring security to Afghanistan was closing down insurgents’ rear bases, and accused the international community of failing to realise this.

    “Our biggest security problem is that the international community has not been concerned enough about the rear bases of the Taliban and terrorists outside Afghanistan,” he said.

    “This is the most important element in the fight against terrorism. And we are suffering because of this.”

    There are more than 60,000 international troops helping the Afghan government to battle Taliban and other insurgents, train up its own forces and establish its authority across the fractured country.

    Germany has contributed some 3,000 troops to the 37-nation, NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

    Afghanistan has seen a sharp spike in violence in the past two years, with 2007 being the bloodiest since a US-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime six years ago.

    Karzai said on Wednesday that the US-led “war on terror” should be directed at Islamist sanctuaries outside Afghanistan, which he said was not a “hideout for terrorism” but a victim.