The deaths happened Sunday during the second day of a military push in the Panjwaii district dubbed Operation Medusa that involved heavy air strikes and artillery barrages. Nine Canadian soldiers were also reportedly wounded.
“I am saddened to announce that four Canadian soldiers were killed during today’s operations, and a number of others were wounded,” Canadian Brig.-Gen. David Fraser said.
“All but one of the wounded is expected to resume their duties within the next few days.”
In total six other Canadian soldiers were wounded and two of the dead have been identified as Warrant Officer Frank Robert Mellish and Warrant Officer Richard Francis Nolan. The other two have not been named.
There are approximately 2,200 Canadian soldiers stationed in the region and many of them are involved in Operation Medusa.
“Despite these losses, Operation Medusa will continue,” Fraser added, referring to the mission launched by NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. “I.S.A.F. is determined to remove the Taliban threat from this region.”
British and American troops are also taking part in the mission that is aimed at clearing the area near Kandahar of the Taliban.
According to Afghan defence officials, 89 insurgents have been killed in the current military operation, but NATO claims that number is 200.
“Truthfully, I was surprised by the resistance they put up,” Maj. Geoff Abthorpe, commander of Bravo Company of Task Force Kandahar and a member of the Royal Canadian Regiment, said of the Taliban resistance.
“We came at them with what I perceived to be a pretty heavy fist.”
The deadly day may prompt NATO commanders to re-examine their combat techniques. The details of the mission were supposed to kept a secret, but U.S. Col. Steve Williams issued a warning to the Taliban in Panjwaii, telling them it was time to clear out, or die.
The Canadians were also involved in a campaign to warn civilians of the upcoming fight and to flee the area. They dropped leaflets and met with village elders.
“Of course any time you broadcast plans as openly as we did to an enemy force they will take the opportunity to do something with that time,” Abthorpe said.
Sunday’s casualties came a day after a NATO plane crashed killing 14 British troops. Officials said the craft was experiencing technical problems and that the crash was not caused by enemy fire.
Since 2002, 31 Canadian soldiers and one Canadian diplomat have been killed in Afghanistan. Here is a list of the deaths:
Sept. 3 — Warrant officers Frank Mellish and Richard Nolan, based at CFB Petawawa, and two others whose names were withheld at their families’ request, killed in battle in Panjwaii district.
Aug. 22 — Cpl. David Braun, who was based at Shilo, Man., killed in a suicide bomb attack in Kandahar City.
Aug. 11 — Cpl. Andrew Eykelenboom, 23, of Comox, B.C., stationed with 1st Field Ambulance, based in Edmonton, killed in suicide attack.
Aug. 9 — Master Cpl. Jeffrey Walsh, 33, of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, based in Shilo, Man., killed by apparent accidental discharge of rifle.
Aug. 5 — Master Cpl. Raymond Arndt, 31, of Loyal Edmonton Regiment, killed when large truck collided head-on with his G-Wagon patrol vehicle.
Aug. 3 — Cpl. Christopher Reid, 34, of 1st Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, killed by roadside bomb. Three other members of same battalion killed in rocket-propelled grenade attack by Taliban forces west of Kandahar: Sgt. Vaughan Ingram, 35, Cpl. Bryce Keller, 27, and Pte. Kevin Dallaire, 22.
July 22 — Cpl. Francisco Gomez, 44, of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, and Cpl. Jason Warren, 29, of Black Watch, Royal Highland Regiment of Canada, based in Montreal, killed when car packed with explosives rammed their armoured vehicle.
July 9 — Cpl. Anthony Boneca, 21, reservist from Lake Superior Scottish Regiment based in Thunder Bay, Ont., killed in firefight.
May 17 — Capt. Nichola Goddard, artillery officer based in Shilo, Man., with 1st Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, killed in Taliban ambush during battle in Panjwaii region. She was first Canadian woman to be killed in action while serving in combat role.
April 22 — 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, and Cpl. Randy Payne, born in Lahr, Germany, stationed at CFB Wainright, Alta., all killed when their G-Wagon destroyed by roadside bomb near Gumbad.
March 29 — Pte. Robert Costall of Edmonton, machine-gunner, killed in firefight with Taliban insurgents in Sangin district of Helmand province.
March 2 — Cpl. Paul Davis of Bridgewater, N.S., and Master Cpl. Timothy Wilson of Grande Prairie, Alta., killed when their armoured vehicle ran off road in Kandahar area.
Jan. 15 — Glyn Berry, British-born Canadian diplomat who had served with Foreign Affairs Department since 1977, killed in suicide bombing near Kandahar.
Nov. 24 — Pte. Braun Woodfield, born in Victoria and raised in Eastern Passage, N.S., killed when his armoured vehicle rolled over near Kandahar.
Jan. 27 — Cpl. Jamie Murphy, 26, of Conception Harbour, Nfld., killed in suicide bombing while on patrol near Kabul.
Oct. 2 — Sgt. Robert Short, 42, of Fredericton, and Cpl. Robbie Beerenfenger, 29, of Ottawa, killed in roadside bombing southwest of Kabul.
April 17 — Sgt. Marc 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., all killed when U.S. F-16 fighter mistakenly bombed Canadians on pre-dawn training exercise. Eight other Canadians wounded in friendly-fire incident.