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
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...