Toronto, Dec 31: An award-winning Canadian journalist and four soldiers were killed Wednesday in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.
Thirty-four-year-old Michelle Lang of the Calgary Herald became the first Canadian journalist to be killed in Afghanistan since the NATO-led war against the Taliban began nine years ago.
She was killed along with four Canadian soldiers in the Kandahar area when their military vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) on the roadside early Wednesday.
Lang was on a six-week assignment in Afghanistan, her first trip to the country, and was filing daily news stories and blog posts for the Calgary Herald, her newspaper said Wednesday.
The newspaper said she is the first journalist ever killed on the job in its 126-year history. A health reporter, she had won a national award earlier this year for coverage of her beat.
"We are all devastated by the loss of Michelle and our thoughts right now are with her family and her fiance," said Scott Anderson, editor-in-chief of Canwest News Service which owns the newspaper.
"Michelle was an incredible person, and outstanding journalist," said newspaper editor-in-chief Lorne Motley.
With the death of four more soldiers Wednesday, the Canadian toll in the Afghanistan war has gone up to 134.
Canada joined the war in 2002, and more than 2,500 Canadian soldiers were assigned to the volatile Kandahar province.
The country's parliament has voted to withdraw from Afghanistan by December 2011.
Apart from 134 soldiers, Canada has also lost a diplomat and two aid workers in Afghanistan.