MoD names three soldiers killed in Afghanistan IED blast as Government says it will ask questions about Mastiff armoured vehicle in Helmand

Troops are first to die in vehicle brought in to protect against  IEDs in Afghanistan

Defence Correspondent

Three British soldiers have been killed and six others injured in a huge roadside bombing in Afghanistan - the first troops to have died in a heavy-armoured Mastiff vehicle.

The soldiers, Corporal William Savage and Fusilier Samuel Flint of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, and Private Robert Hetherington, of the 7th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, were travelling in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand on a stretch of road that had been in regular use and was believed to be in a safe area.

Their deaths come as international forces prepare to leave the 12-year-old war.

Military officials are investigating whether insurgents are designing bigger bombs aimed at piercing the 23-tonne Mastiff's armour. They will not only look at how the bomb was made, but also into checks used by Afghan and British troops on patrol. “If you build a big enough bomb it will overcome a Mastiff. It's just never been done before,” a military source said.

The convoy was on Route 611, a new road that had been used to show the reconstruction taking place in the province. Increasingly, the Afghan army and police are carrying out searches for IEDs as they take over security duties.

The last time so many British soldiers were killed in one incident was last March when six died after their Warrior vehicle was blown up by an IED about 25 miles north of Bashkir Gash.

The Taliban announced last weekend its “spring offensive” had started with a series of bombings. The insurgents said they were running large parts of the country, publicising the case of a father who executed his 18-year-old daughter, on their orders, after she had run away from home.

Former Army chief of staff Lord Dennett told the BBC: “As in any cycle of conflict, there's invention and counter-invention. The Taliban have found a way of countering the protective qualities of the Mastiff.”

Cpl Savage's pregnant wife, Lindsey, said: “I have lost the love of my life and the father of our son.” The 21-year-old joined the Army in April 2003 and had previously completed tours of both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Colonel Robin Lindsay, Pte Hetherington's commanding officer, said the 25-year-old had epitomised “everything that is excellent about the reserve forces”. The US-born soldier had enlisted in the Territorial Army in 2006 and hoped to attend Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. 

The Prime Minister David Cameron said that the country had paid a “very high price” for its work in Afghanistan, but maintained it was vital in making sure the country “doesn't again become a haven for terrorists”.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said: “This incident demonstrates once again the dangers faced by our armed forces, often on a daily basis, and they deserve our deepest gratitude and respect for the job they do in some of the most difficult and trying circumstances imaginable.”

The deaths bring the total of UK military losses since 2001 to 444, at a time when UK forces have drastically scaled down operations with Afghans taking the lead. Commanders have become concerned that this has created a false sense of security for the public back home, especially with the onset of the fighting season.

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future