Canada
Soldier injured in training exercise thought it was Taliban attack

Balfour Der, defence lawyer for Maj. Darryl Watts, speaks to media during Watts' court martial at Mewata Armoury in Calgary, Nov. 20, 2012.

Credits: Lyle Aspinall/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency

KEVIN MARTIN | QMI AGENCY

CALGARY -- Canadian troops injured in a deadly Afghan training exercise believed they were under Taliban attack, one of the wounded soldiers told a court martial Tuesday.

Master Cpl. William Pylypow testified he was under half cover behind a light armoured vehicle (LAV) when he was struck by two ball bearings from a Claymore mine.

"We always presume it's Taliban, so I just thought they got to us," Pylypow told the hearing.

Pylypow's then-commanding officer, Maj. Darryl Watts, faces six charges, including manslaughter, in the death of Cpl. Joshua Baker and the injuries to four others, including Pylypow.

Watts, then a captain, was in charge of a platoon on Feb. 12, 2010, during a weapons firing exercise at Kan Kala, just northeast of Kandahar.

Pylypow testified the troops received no specific briefing on the use of the C19 Claymores before the weapons were deployed.

He said during the third relay of explosions he felt a concussive blast and then two metal ball bearings struck his right arm.

"I pretty well went into shock," he told prosecutor Maj. Anthony Tamburro.

Outside court, Pylypow said his initial reaction to being hit was he thought his arm had been blown off.

He has fully recovered.

Meanwhile, the soldier who detonated the blast which triggered the Claymore mine testified he was doing so safely.

Cpl. Wolfgang Brettner, who was also injured, said five other mines were fired before his without any problems.

Moments after his blast, Brettner said he saw his arm bleeding and "people around me ... dropping."

Both witnesses, and a third soldier who was wounded, told defence lawyer Balfour Der that Watts was a conscientious commander.

"He cared for the troops in his platoon a lot and it showed," Brettner said.

If convicted, Watts could face anything from a reduction in rank to a federal prison sentence.

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