Inquest reopens for soldier killed in Afghan blast

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The Independent Online

An inquest will resume today into the death of a British soldier killed in an explosion in Afghanistan.

Private Robert McLaren, from Kintra, near Fionnphort on the Isle of Mull, was caught in a blast from an improvised explosive device (IED) while on operation near Kandahar on June 11 last year.

The 20-year-old, from The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, was fresh out of infantry recruit training and had only been in active service with the regiment for four weeks.

The inquest will resume at Wiltshire Coroner's Court, sitting at Trowbridge Town Hall.

Colleagues of Pte McLaren described how he and comrades were engaged in close combat with insurgents for several hours before his death.

The soldier was pinned down by rifle fire on two sides but pushed forward to gain a better position and help his fellow men, who were in danger.

Major Matt Munro, officer commanding Alpha (Grenadier) Company, said: "On his first operation, just a month out of recruit training he left an indelible impression on his brother Jocks when in his first contact he fearlessly and decisively engaged insurgents at close range.

"He was killed two weeks later by an improvised explosive device as once again, under accurate and sustained fire, he pushed himself forward to support his imperilled colleagues.

"This was typical of the man who without hesitation, question or thought for his personal safety, repeatedly pushed himself to the fore."

Pte McLaren went to Bunnessan Primary and Oban High School. He joined the Army in November 2007, training at Winchester, Surrey and Catterick.

His family said in a statement: "We are very proud of Robert. He died doing a job he loved and we will cherish fond memories of Robert forever."