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Canadian Defence Minister "not targeted," General says
Politics Watch News Services
November 6, 2007, updated 4:45 p.m.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay was not hurt after insurgents fired on a base he was touring in Afghanistan. 

OTTAWA  (PoliticsWatch.com) — Canada's top soldier said Tuesday Defence Minister Peter MacKay was not the target of a Taliban attack.  

MacKay was unharmed after the forward operating base in Afghanistan he was visiting came under a rocket attack from insurgents. 

"The minister was not subject to an attack," Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier told reporters after delivering a speech in Ottawa. "What was subject to an attack was one of our forward operating bases and that has been consistent."

"I think these are things that have occurred coincidental in time and space," Hillier said. 

The attack on the base MacKay was visiting came the same day insurgents pulled off a brazen suicide bombing that killed 40 people, including six members of the Afghan parliament. 

The general downplayed concerns about the security situation in Afghanistan and noted that he visited and toured the country himself just two weeks ago. 

"Obviously there is still a threat ... but the region is more stable, it is more secure than we have seen it in 12 months."

This marked MacKay's first visit to Afghanistan as defence minister.  After the attack, the minister was rushed off the base by helicopter and his plans to tour other parts of the country were postponed. 

Later, MacKay told journalists how events unfolded from his perspective.

"We heard the explosion," he said. "We heard the whistle overhead. We were told to get down. We did."

"We were taken out of harm's way very quickly and put into an armoured vehicle."

MacKay said the incident has given him "an even greater appreciation" of the professionalism of the Canadian troops serving in Afghanistan.  

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