Blast kills 5 Canadians in southern Afghanistan

Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:07pm EST
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Four Canadian soldiers and a Canadian journalist were killed when their armored vehicle was hit by a bomb in southern Kandahar province on Wednesday, the Canadian Defense Ministry said.

Four other Canadian soldiers and a Canadian civilian official were wounded in the blast, which occurred about four km (2.5 miles) outside the city of Kandahar, the ministry said in a statement

The journalist killed was Michelle Lang, 34, a reporter from the Calgary Herald newspaper who was on assignment in Afghanistan for the Canwest New Service, according to the news agency.

Lang, who had recently received a national award for her healthcare coverage, was on her first assignment in Afghanistan and had only been in the country since December 11.

The patrol was visiting community reconstruction projects, officials said.

The attack brings Canada's military deaths in Afghanistan to 138 soldiers. Lang is the first Canadian journalist killed covering the country's military mission, although several Canadian journalists have been wounded.

Canada has a 2,800-strong military mission in Afghanistan, but it is scheduled to pull its troops out at the end of 2011.

(Reporting by Allan Dowd; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

<p>Calgary Herald reporter Michelle Lang is seen in a handout photo released to Reuters on December 30, 2009. REUTERS/Colleen De Neve/Calgary Herald /CANWEST NEWS SERVICE/Handout</p>