Bloodiest year since Falklands War

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The Independent Online

Britain's Armed Forces have suffered the bloodiest year of action since the Falklands War with the announcement today of the deaths of five soldiers in Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defence said the death toll for British Armed Forces this year now stands at 92 in Afghanistan, with one soldier who died from gunshot wounds while on base in Basra, southern Iraq.

The death toll does not include two soldiers who were shot dead outside a military barracks in Northern Ireland in March this year.

The previous highest death toll since the Falklands conflict was in 2007, when 89 members of the armed forces died on active service.

Today's news brings the total of British service personnel who have died since the start of operations in Afghanistan in 2001 to 229.

The grim development comes after eight soldiers died in a period of 24 hours in Afghanistan in July, the bloodiest 24 hours for ground troops since operations began in the country.

The beginning of July also saw the death in Afghanistan of the most senior British officer to be killed since the Falklands War, Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards.

That month also marked another milestone with the conflict claiming the lives of more British troops than the Iraq war.

Six soldiers died in October, including Corporal Thomas Mason, from Fife, who died six weeks after he was injured by an improvised explosive device.

In September 2006, 14 British service personnel - 12 RAF service personnel, a Royal Marine and an Army soldier - were killed when a Nato Nimrod MR2 aircraft crashed in southern Afghanistan.

In 2008, 51 members of the British forces died in Afghanistan, compared with 42 in 2007 and 39 in 2006.

Between October 2001, when the mission began, and the end of 2005, five members of the British armed forces died.

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