Blair promises extra cash for frontline troops

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair has signalled that British soldiers fighting abroad will receive extra cash payments. He made the announcement as two journalists were killed in Afghanistan in a renewed escalation of violence. Mr Blair said in an interview that he was looking at a "package" of additional support for front-line troops.

The Government has been the target of fierce criticism over pay levels and equipment shortages faced by troops engaged in intense fighting in Afghanistan.

The journalists became the latest casualties of the conflict, killed by gunmen in Baghlan province. They worked for the German news agency Deutsche Welle. ANato soldier was killed in a related incident.

Mr Blair sought to reassure the armed forces that commanders would be given whatever additional resources were needed. He was speaking just days after David Cameron suggested, in a speech to the Conservative Party conference, that soldiers serving abroad be exempt from income tax.

A senior minister told The Independent on Sunday that such a measure would be worthless to most troops, who already get tax credits. Instead, those serving on the front line could receive extra pay during their tours of duty. In the past, defence chiefs have resisted"danger money" for fear of creating a "two-tier" army.

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, is said to support an increase in cash for all lower ranks, whether they are serving on the front line or in barracks in Britain. But Mr Blair made clear he wanted to reward troops who, he warned, will face dangerous enemies more frequently than in the past.