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Fallen soldier called Afghan war 'useless': family
As soldiers assembled at a ceremony in Afghanistan to send off the flag-draped casket carrying Canada's latest fallen soldier, a report has surfaced saying the 23-year-old tried to stay positive about the mission, even though he quietly considered it pointless.
Pte. Jonathan Couturier was killed when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb while returning from a mission in the volatile Panjwaii district, southwest of Kandahar city, on Thursday. Eleven other soldiers suffered minor injuries in the attack.
Following his death, Couturier's brother told a Quebec City newspaper that the young soldier considered the mission futile and questioned if anything was being accomplished in the war-torn country.
"That war over there, he found it a bit useless -- that they were wasting their time over there," Nicolas Couturier told Le Soleil newspaper.
He said his brother always showed mixed emotion about his deployment.
"Let's just say he would want to (go), then he didn't want to. When it's your job, you don't have a choice. You accomplish a mission. But when you leave, inside you, there's something you hide, (that) you don't really feel like going," Couturier said.
More than 2,500 Canadian and international soldiers lined the tarmac at the Kandahar Airfield on Friday as Couturier's casket was carried into a military aircraft bound for Canada.
Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance said Thursday that Couturier always had a great sense of humour and was like a "little brother" to some of the older soldiers.
"At the time of his death, Jonathan was returning from an operation designed to protect the population by removing insurgent command and control networks in the Panjwaii district," said Vance, who is the commander of Task Force Kandahar.
"This meant capturing weapons and IED caches and preventing the movement of insurgents and weaponry into areas where innocent civilians might be harmed."
Couturier, who was based in Valcartier, Que., is the second Canadian soldier to be killed by a roadside bomb this week.
Pte. Patrick Lormand, 21, was killed when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in the Panjwaii district on Sunday.
The region, with its vast fields and farming compounds, has remained a Taliban bastion despite efforts to bring the area under control.
Four soldiers have now died in similar blasts this month. On Sept. 6, Maj. Yannick Pepin and Cpl. Jean-Francois Drouin were also killed by a roadside bomb.
Since 2002, 131 Canadian soldiers have died while serving in Afghanistan.
With files from The Canadian Press