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Canadian aircraft hit by Taliban: leaked report

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 | 8:03 PM ET

A Canadian Hercules transport was hit with a powerful anti-aircraft weapon during takeoff in May 2009, according to one of the secret U.S. documents released on the website WikiLeaks.

A Canadian Hercules transport, similar to the one shown here, was hit with an anti-aircraft weapon during takeoff in May 2009, according to a U.S. report published by WikiLeaks.  A Canadian Hercules transport, similar to the one shown here, was hit with an anti-aircraft weapon during takeoff in May 2009, according to a U.S. report published by WikiLeaks. (Corporal Patrick Drouin, Department of National Defence)

The report, never before revealed to the public, states that the C-130's landing gear and part of its fuselage were torn apart by a 14.5 mm round as the aircraft departed from the western province of Farah.

"It is unusual that insurgents would engage aircraft in such close proximity to an airfield with a weapon of this caliber," the report states.

No one was injured in the attack and the crew didn't realize the aircraft had been hit, believing the noise from the right rear of the aircraft came from rocks displaced by the tires. While in flight, whistling noises were heard coming from the damaged area, prompting the crew to land in Kandahar.

According to the report, prior to departure, some crew members observed people outside the fence talking on cellphones while staring at the aircraft.

The report also said intelligence analysts warned that "targeting [Canadian Forces] aircraft may have been part of the strategy during the Taliban offence."

The documents also say that Canada's unmanned drones crash with some frequency and that in at least one case, locals stripped away the vehicle's sophisticated technology before soldiers could recover it.

There's also a reference to a medevac helicopter being called in for a sick dog working with special forces troops.

On Sunday, WikiLeaks published nearly 77,000 U.S. documents, revealing new details about the war in Afghanistan, including the relationship of the Pakistani military with Afghan insurgents. The documents were written by soldiers and intelligence officers.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon spoke out against the leaking of potentially sensitive operational information, saying the government is concerned that such acts "could endanger the lives of our men and women in Afghanistan."

On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama said that he is concerned about the leaks but added that they do not reveal any new issues.

Some experts are questioning the accuracy of some of the documents. For example, one incident report suggests four Canadian soldiers who died in September 2006 in Afghanistan were killed by "friendly fire" from U.S. forces

But the federal government and Rick Hillier, Canada's former top soldier, have denied the report, insisting the soldiers were killed in a firefight with the Taliban, as originally reported.

The leaked documents also suggest that two Afghan children were killed playing with a shell left behind by Canadians after a practice drill.

An investigation determined the shell wasn't Canadian but of Soviet vintage.

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