Afghan soldiers fire at Canadian convoy after Kandahar fender bender

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN — A small group of Afghan army soldiers shot at a Canadian convoy after a recent road accident outside Kandahar city, the military said Tuesday.

The Afghan troops were manning a checkpoint near the Dand district centre, southwest of the city, on Boxing Day when a resupply convoy struck one of their vehicles.

The Canadians stopped to fill out paperwork and then started off down the road.

But the Afghan soldiers didn’t want the Canadians to leave the scene and fired their weapons at the convoy and into the air.

The Canadian military says none of its soldiers were injured, nor did they return fire.

“(Task Force Kandahar) and 1-205 Corps ANA soldiers have been working extremely well together and this isolated incident does not reflect the close working relationship that both our organizations enjoy,” Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, the Canadian commander of troops in Kandahar, said in a statement.

“I work closely with Brig.-Gen. (Ahmad) Habibi each day and he has addressed the issue with his staff. I have complete confidence that once all the facts are gathered the appropriate actions will be taken.”

The military says it is investigating the incident and the Afghan army plans to prosecute the troops involved.

Two Canadian journalists were kept at a distance Monday during a stop at the Dand district centre as Habibi, who commands the 1st Brigade of the Afghan Army’s 205 Corps, dressed down his troops as Milner looked on.

Word of the shooting has made its way around Kandahar Airfield. Several soldiers in a bomb shelter openly chatted about the incident during a recent rocket attack.

The embarrassing incident comes as Canada winds down its combat mission in Kandahar and prepares to move a smaller contingent of troops north to Kabul to train Afghan soldiers inside the wire.

The Canadian military has invested a great deal of time and effort mentoring Afghan troops in Kandahar province. Here as in other parts of the country, the Afghan army is generally considered much more disciplined and professional than the fledgling police force, which is prone to corruption.

Afghan troops accompany U.S.-led coalition soldiers on missions across the country. They also help plan operations.

Readying the Afghan army and police to assume responsibility for their country’s security is an integral part of NATO’s exit strategy in Afghanistan. The military alliance has set a timeline of 2014 to hand over all security to Afghan forces.

Part of that plan involves nearly doubling the size of Afghanistan’s army in the next few years

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