Afghanistan’s bloodiest year since the US-led invasion draws to a close with the Taliban claiming to have killed at least 13 Westerners. Eight Americans died near the border with Pakistan when an officer in the Afghan National Army blew himself up at a military base in Khost. Reports from Washington say the victims were CIA agents training Afghan special forces.
Khost province is where the Taliban insurrection is at its strongest. Hours after that attack, the militants claimed another fatal bombing, this time in Kandahar. Four Canadian soldiers died when their patrol was hit by a roadside bomb. They were visiting community reconstruction projects, a reporter with them was also killed.
34-year-old Michelle Lang worked for the Calgary Herald – she was on her first assignment in Afghanistan.
“She was the person that you could always look to to be an example and to take things and make them special, because she was a special person,” said Calgary Herald editor-in-chief Lorne Motley. “We really feel for her family and her fiance and her friends.”
2009 has seen record levels of military and civilian deaths, with the Taliban regaining strength after being overthrown by the US-led invasion in 2001.