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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 May 2006, 04:42 GMT 05:42 UK
Canada set for longer Afghan stay
Canadian officer questions suspected Taleban supporter
Canada has seen a number of combat losses
The Canadian government is reportedly planning to extend the mission of its troops in Afghanistan by two years.

The 2,300 soldiers were due to leave Afghanistan next February, but Canadian radio said parliament would be asked to approve an extension until 2009.

At least 15 Canadian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since Canada joined in 2002 the US-led coalition that overthrew the Taleban.

Two Canadians were injured by a bomb in Kandahar province on Monday.

Since coming to power in January the conservative government has demonstrated to Canadians its support for the military mission in Afghanistan, says the BBC's Lee Carter in Toronto.

Wednesday debate

Recently both the country's Foreign Minister Peter MacKay and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have paid separate visits to the Canadian troops based near Kandahar.

At this stage the prime minister has yet to confirm that the government is seeking the extension, but the opposition Liberals say there is all party support for a six-hour debate and a vote on the issue to be held on Wednesday evening in the Canadian parliament.

Most analysts believe that Mr Harper will receive the support he needs but the motion comes at a time when public support for the mission has dropped, according to opinion polls.

The polls show that many Canadians, whilst being proud of their soldiers, are uneasy about their direct combat role in Afghanistan helping to flush out Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters.

It is a stark contrast to the many peacekeeping missions Canada has been involved in over the past 15 years, our correspondent says.

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