British soldier found dead in south Afghanistan

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The Independent Online

A British soldier who went missing in southern Afghanistan prompting an extensive search has been found dead, the British Defence Ministry said today.

The MoD said the soldier had suffered gunshot wounds but that his exact cause of his death was still to be established.

The Taliban had said earlier they had captured and killed him, but Reuters could not independently verify the claim and the hardline Islamists often exaggerate battlefield exploits.

"The soldier was reported missing from his check point very early this morning and an extensive search of the area was conducted throughout the day to locate him. This evening, the body of the soldier was found by ISAF forces," said a British military spokesman.

He said the soldier was from The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.

A spokesman for the Taliban told Reuters the militant group had captured the soldier yesterday and had executed him in the Babaji area of southern Helmand.

"The soldier was captured yesterday evening during a firefight. When the fighting got more intense we couldn't keep him so we had to kill him," Qari Mohammad Yousuf said by telephone from an undisclosed location.

A spokesman from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force declined to comment on the Taliban claim.

More than 2,500 foreign troops have died in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in late 2001.

The three other service members who went missing in Afghanistan were all American, and were all captured or killed by the Taliban.