SAS man killed in battle had guided in paratroops

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The Independent Online

The British soldier who died in the Sierra Leone hostage rescue operation was Bombardier Brad Tinnion of the Royal Artillery, who is believed to have been serving on attachment with the SAS.

The British soldier who died in the Sierra Leone hostage rescue operation was Bombardier Brad Tinnion of the Royal Artillery, who is believed to have been serving on attachment with the SAS.

Bombardier Tinnion, the first British serviceman to be killed in the current conflict in Sierra Leone, had been part of a special forces team operating for 10 days in the West African state in preparation for the mission to free the six kidnapped British soldiers and their Sierra Leone army liaison officer.

He and his colleagues had been on the ground in the Occra Hills, the base of the West Side Boys militia, keeping track of the hostages and their captors. The team, which also included members of the Royal Navy's Special Boat Service, guided in the paratroopers for Sunday morning's rescue mission.

Bombardier Tinnion was hit during fierce exchanges of fire at Magbeni, in the south side of the Rokel river, within half an hour of the rescue bid being launched. He was airlifted out of the combat area, but died later from his injuries.

Charles Tinnion, Bombardier Tinnion's father, said at his home in Harrogate, North Yorkshire: "It is a very upsetting time for the family and at the moment we are trying to come to terms with what has happened. Unfortunately I cannot say which regiment he was in as it is classified."

Brigadier Jonathan Bailey MBE, of the Royal Artillery, said: "Brad Tinnion died bravely doing the job he loved, helping to rescue hostages."

The West Side Boys were using British rifles donated by the UK, Iain Duncan, the shadow defence spokesman, said last night. He claimed he had met members of the militia with British SLRs during a recent visit to Sierra Leone. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said that just because the militia were armed with SLRs, that did not mean they came from the UK.

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