KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — A suicide bombing that killed Col. Geoff Parker, the most senior Canadian soldier to die in the Afghan mission, was likely an act that targeted foreign personnel in general and not military staff, the military said Thursday.
Lt.-Col. Conrad Mialkowski said there is no indication the attack in Afghanistan’s capital this week was specifically directed at high-ranking soldiers.
“Our sense is that it was most likely an attack on something that was just identified as something that was foreign and out of place,” Mialkowski said.
“It’s fairly desperate that that is what the insurgency has resorted to because it actually sort of demonstrates to us that ... they will kill civilians indiscriminately in order to get at us.”
Parker was killed along with five U.S. troops and 12 Afghan civilians when a car suicide bomber attacked a NATO convoy on Tuesday.
Mialkowski’s comments came as about 1,500 military and civilian personnel bid farewell to Parker at a ramp ceremony at Kandahar Airfield.
Parker’s flag-draped casket was hoisted onto the back of a Hercules military plane to begin its journey to Canada.
Mialkowski, who knew Parker for about 20 years, remembered him as a soldier who wouldn’t back away from his superiors when he felt they were wrong.
“Even in his very early years in the army, Geoff was the kind of fellow that wouldn’t compromise,” he said.
“If something was stupid, he would say it and use that kind of language. And we had challenging bosses over the years who Geoff wouldn’t always agree with and he certainly would address those.”
The 42-year-old Parker, a native of Oakville, Ont., was in Kabul preparing to take over a senior position responsible for development work in Kandahar as part of NATO’s counterinsurgency strategy.
He was on a reconnaissance mission and was set to become the deputy director of stability for Regional Command South headquarters at Kandahar Airfield.
In the new job, a civilian position that typically lasts one year, Parker would have been tasked with co-ordinating humanitarian and development activity in support of the ISAF mission.
“The job he was going into clearly wasn’t to carry a rifle or a machine gun and clear the grape fields of Panjwaii,” Mialkowski said.
Tuesday’s attack — the deadliest for NATO troops in Kabul since September — comes despite a ramped up effort by Afghan authorities to intercept would-be attackers and better secure a capital city that saw a spate of brazen attacks this winter.
Parker was the seventh Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan this year and the 145th Canadian military member to die in the eight-year-old Afghan mission. Two civilians — diplomat Glyn Berry and journalist Michelle Lang — have also been killed.