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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 October, 2003, 23:48 GMT 00:48 UK
Canadian troops die in Kabul blast
Canadian peacekeeping troops
Canada joined the multi-national Isaf force in August

Two Canadian soldiers have been killed in an explosion in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

A spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force said three others were wounded when a landmine exploded under their vehicle on a routine patrol.

The identity of those killed was being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister John Manley confirmed that the dead and injured were all Canadian.

"It looks like their vehicle struck an explosive device a few kilometres outside the camp," he told the Associated Press news agency.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien said the incident would not lessen Canada's commitment to the peacekeeping force.

"The news today is a painful reminder that defending our values and doing our duty can come with a very high price," he said in a statement.

The incident marks Canada's first casualties since the country sent nearly 2,000 troops to Afghanistan in August.

It was not clear whether the mine which went off was an old one or one laid recently, aimed at Isaf personnel who are charged with maintaining security in Kabul.

Nato remit

Afghanistan, the scene of years of war, is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.

In recent months suspected Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters and supporters of renegade warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar have been stepping up attacks against foreign and government forces in Afghanistan.

A German peacekeeper died and another was wounded in May when their vehicle ran over a land mine.

In June, four German peacekeepers died and 29 others were wounded by a suicide bomber driving a taxi laden with explosives near the main base in Kabul.

Four Canadian soldiers died last year when they were bombed by mistake by a US fighter jet near Kandahar.

Nato took control of Isaf in August and is considering expanding it to areas outside the capital.

Canadian soldiers make up the largest contingent of the peacekeeping force.

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