DND, families of dead soldiers refute leaked report of friendly fire - NEWS 95.7
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DND, families of dead soldiers refute leaked report of friendly fire

OTTAWA – The mother of a Canadian soldier killed by insurgents in Afghanistan says a leaked document suggesting that her son was in fact killed in a friendly-fire incident is wrong.

The report, one of thousands of U.S. secret documents posted on the WikiLeaks whistle-blower website, suggests four Canadian soldiers, reported killed in fighting in Panjwaii district on Sept. 3, 2006, were in fact killed by a NATO bomb.

Sgt. Shane Stachnik, Warrant Officer Frank Robert Mellish, Pte. William Cushley and Warrant Officer Richard Francis Nolan, were killed during the opening phase of the Canadian-led battle Operation Medusa.

Stachnik’s mother, Avril, said in an interview from her home in Waskatenau, Alta., that she is absolutely positive that her son was killed in action, by the Taliban.

“The vehicle that he was in was hit by an RPG — that’s a rocket-propelled grenade — and some of the shrapnel from it hit the turret and some of the shrapnel from the turret hit him in the neck. He bled to death.”

She said that’s what the Department of Defence told her, and that’s what she believes.

“One of Shane’s best friends was with him at the time and that’s what he told me as well,” she said.

A spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay also disputed the report, saying the four Canadian soldiers “fell as a result of insurgent activity.”

“At all times the Canadian Forces have been open and forthright with the families of our fallen soldiers and the Canadian public about the circumstances relating to death in Afghanistan,” Jay Paxton said in a statement late Monday.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon condemned the leak, one of the largest unauthorized disclosures in military history, but said the documents had “nothing to do with Canada.”

Stachnik said she was “really distressed about the whole thing.”

“It’s just opening up new wounds that I don’t think is really necessary. It’s not going to bring them back…. And I’m really sorry that it’s come up. Regardless of what happened, it’s not going to bring him back.”

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