Corporal Anthony Joseph Boneca, 21, of the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment based in Thunder Bay, Ont. was fatally wounded while coalition forces swept through an area west of Kandahar City called Pashmol, which is considered a gathering point for militants.
“There has been lots of contact. But unfortunately we have suffered the tragic loss of Cpl. Boneca,” said Brig.-Gen. David Fraser, the Canadian commander on the multinational brigade in Kandahar.
“We really do have to admire his professionalism and his heroic efforts to help out people less fortunate than ours. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”
Just a few hours after Boneca was killed two other Canadian soldiers were injured in the same area. Their injuries are said to be non life-threatening. A day earlier, two other Canadian troops were wounded, one seriously, in a firefight in the same district.
“Canadian soldiers are sweeping through the area removing the threat the Taliban pose to the Afghan people,” said Lt.-Cdr. Mark MacIntyre, a Canadian Forces spokesman. “They are conducting aggressive patrols and coming into contact with the enemy. There have been numerous skirmishes in the past 24 hours.”
Militants have been attacking convoys and Afghan National Police centres in the Pashmol area for the past few months. Officials say coalition forces have won every battle in the area since May, but militants start to gather again as soon as troops leave.
Fraser said operations will continue in the region despite Boneca’s death.
“We are not pulling back at all, we are leaning into this. We are going to push right through for as long as it takes,” he said.
Seventeen Canadian soldiers and a diplomat have been killed in Afghanistan since 2002.
The reservist’s unit was to rotate back to Canada next month.
Boneca joined the reserves right after high school, according to his family, and he had previously done tours including guard duty in the United Arab Emirates and Kabul before heading to southern Afghanistan in February.
“He was always interested in the army,” Boneca’s aunt Elizabeth Babe said. “He just came home from one tour, worked a bit around, and signed up for the second tour.
“He’s just the most wonderful boy. Very loyal, very strong, very intelligent, and thrilled to be part of the services. A real angel of a person.”
Governor General Michaelle Jean extended her condolences to the fallen soldier’s family.
“On behalf of all Canadians, our thoughts and condolences are with Corporal Boneca’s family and friends, as well as his extended military family during this difficult time. Know that we share your grief,” she said in a statement.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper also sent his condolences and said Boneca’s death serves as a reminder of the risks Canadian troops face in Afghanistan and thanked the soldiers serving there.
Canadian casualties in Afghanistan:
April 18 (April 17 in Canada)
Four soldiers were killed and eight were wounded in a friendly-fire incident near Kandahar. A U.S. F-16 fighter jet mistakenly bombed the Canadians, who were on a pre-dawn training exercise. Killed were Sgt. Marc D. Leger, 29, of Lancaster, Ont., Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, 24, of Montreal, Pte. Richard Green, 21, of Mill Cove, N.S., and Pte. Nathan Smith, 27, of Tatamagouche, N.S.
Two soldiers were killed and three wounded in a roadside bombing southwest of Kabul. Killed were Sgt. Robert Alan Short, 42, of Fredericton, and Cpl. Robbie Christopher Beerenfenger, 29, of Ottawa.
One soldier died in a suicide bombing while on patrol near Kabul. Three others were wounded. Killed was Cpl. Jamie Brendan Murphy, 26, of Conception Harbour, Nfld.
One soldier lost his life and four were injured when the armoured vehicle they were travelling in rolled over near Kandahar. Killed was Pte. Braun Scott Woodfield, born in Victoria and raised in Eastern Passage, N.S.
A Canadian diplomat, Glyn Berry, was killed and three Canadian soldiers were wounded in a suicide bombing near Kandahar. Berry was born in Britain and had served with the Foreign Affairs Department since 1977 in various postings.
A soldier was killed and another later died from his injuries after their armoured vehicle ran off a road in the Kandahar area. Six others were injured. Killed were Cpl. Paul Davis of Bridgewater, N.S., and Master Cpl. Timothy Wilson of Grande Prairie, Alta..
One soldier died and three were wounded during a firefight with Taliban insurgents in Sangin district, Helmand province, north of Kandahar. Killed was Pte. Robert Costall, a machine-gunner, born in Thunder Bay, Ont., lived in the Edmonton area.
Four Canadian soldiers killed when their G-Wagon patrol vehicle was destroyed by a roadside bomb near Gumbad, about 75 kilometres north of Kandahar. Killed were Cpl. Matthew Dinning, of Richmond Hill, Ont., stationed with 2nd Canadian Mechanized Brigade in Petawawa, Ont.; Bombardier Myles Mansell, of Victoria; Lieut. William Turner, of Toronto, stationed in Edmonton; Cpl. Randy Payne, born in Lahr, Germany, stationed at CFB Wainright, Alta.
Capt. Nichola Goddard, an artillery officer, was killed in a Taliban ambush during a battle in the Panjwai region. She was first Canadian woman killed in action while serving in a combat role. Based in Shila, Man., with 1st Royal Canadian Horse Artillery. Her parents live in Calgary; family originally from the Maritimes.
Cpl. Anthony Joseph Boneca, 21, a reservist from the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment based in Thunder Bay, Ont., died in a firefight near the village of Pashmol west of Kandahar City.