British soldier killed in Afghanistan

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The Independent Online

A British soldier died after coming under fire on a foot patrol in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said today.

The serviceman, from 1st Battalion The Rifles, died of wounds received south of Lashkar Gah in the country's Helmand Province yesterday. His next of kin has been informed.

Commander Paula Rowe, spokeswoman for Task Force Helmand, said: "Task Force Helmand mourns the loss of this brave soldier and we offer our thoughts and prayers to all his family, friends and comrades at this difficult time."

The soldier was on a joint operation with the British Army and the Afghan National Army to "dominate ground" in the region, the MoD said.

He is the eighth British serviceman to die in Afghanistan so far this year and his death takes the total number of British servicemen and women killed since the start of operations in 2001 to 145.

Brigadier General Richard Blanchette, spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which runs military operations in Afghanistan, said: "We offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the soldier who died while working to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.

"We have lost a valuable member of our team and his loss will be felt across ISAF."

The MoD said in a statement: "It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence has to announce the death of a soldier from 1st Battalion The Rifles.

"He died from wounds sustained as a result of enemy fire during a joint UK and Afghan National Army foot patrol to dominate ground in the district of Nawa, south of Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province."

The soldier's family had asked for a 24-hour period of grace before further details were released, the MoD said.

The last UK serviceman killed in Afghanistan died on Saturday south west of Sangin in Northern Helmand.

Marine Darren Smith, from 45 Commando, died while on route to hospital after being shot during a Taliban ambush.

The 27-year-old, from Fleetwood, Lancashire, died while being transferred to medical facilities at Camp Bastion.