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Deadly end to 2009 in Afghanistan: Five Canadians killed, including journalist

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As a deadly year in Afghanistan winds down, reports confirm five more Canadians have been killed. Four soldiers and a Calgary Herald journalist, Michelle Lang, died in an explosion Dec. 30 in Kandahar Province.

Graeme Smith, the Globe and Mail's main correspondent in southern Afghanistan until the end of 2008, writes about the dangers of the job, responding to Lang's death. Smith, who earlier this year urged a withdrawal of troops, left Afghanistan because he feared his life may be in danger ... from some of the powerful men in the very regime that Canadian troops and NATO are propping up. In a speech to the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom, he revealed:

As readers, you’ve probably asked yourself why no Kandahar journalist has investigated allegations that the president’s brother is a drug dealer. It’s the same reason why I stayed away from that topic. I’m afraid of Ahmed Wali Karzai, just like every other reporter in the city. Even less powerful figures have a long reach; Western intelligence officers in Kabul recently warned me to stay away from the country for the foreseeable future, because of threats against me as a result of a drug corruption story I wrote earlier this year. This was because I accused the top counter-narcotics official of dealing drugs, and now I’m afraid of him too.

In October 2009, the New York Times outed Wali Karzai as having received regular payments from the CIA, and repeated the allegation that he was involved in the drug trade.

This week's deaths bring this country's toll in the Afghan War to 138 soldiers and two civilians. Thirty-two soldiers died in 2009. How many more will die in 2010 to prop up President Karzai's narco-state? And how many more Afghans will be killed for the crime of living in their own -- occupied -- country?

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