OTTAWA, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- Canadian leaders, politicians and the public on Thursday are pouring tributes to the five people, including one journalist, who were killed Wednesday by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan.
The explosion, which happened close to Kandahar City, is the worst event for Canada since six of its soldiers were killed in another blast in 2007. It brought the total number of Canadian deaths in Afghanistan since 2002 to 138.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it was with "very heavy hearts" that Canadians learned of the five deaths.
"The five men and women who perished are true Canadian heroes. Canadians will never forget their dedication and sacrifice," he said in a written statement Thursday.
The journalist, 34-year-old Michelle Lang working for Calgary Herald, was the first Canadian journalist killed in Afghanistan. Harper wrote that Lang's "unforeseen and tragic death will be felt in Calgary and communities across Canada."
Defense Minister Peter MacKay also expressed his sympathies to the families and friends of the five Canadian victims.
"Canadians will always stand proudly behind the brave men and women of the Canadian Forces, and our partners, as they courageously risk their lives every day towards our goal of a stable, strong and peaceful Afghanistan," he said in a written statement.
"Their sacrifice inspires those who will follow in our commitment to this mission and for this, the government of Canada and all Canadians will remain forever grateful."
Many ordinary Canadians expressed their condolences online. By late Thursday morning, a webpage on the popular social-networking site Facebook had been created to remember Lang, and had accumulated close to 1,000 members.