British soldier shot dead in Taliban assault on Army base is identified

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The sixth soldier killed in Afghanistan this month was named yesterday as Lance Corporal Jonathan Hetherington from 14 Signal Regiment. The 22-year-old was shot dead during an assault on his barracks in Musa Qala, in Helmand province, early on Sunday.

L/Cpl Hetherington, who grew up in south Wales, joined the Army in September 2000 and trained as a radio systems operator. His commanding officer, Lt-Col Steve Vickery, paid tribute to "an outstanding soldier, trusted comrade and valued friend".

He said: "He will be fondly remembered for his amiable nature and engaging sense of humour and without doubt a very promising military career lay ahead. He was a very bright junior non-commissioned officer who had integrated extremely well into regimental life since his arrival in February of this year.

"His loss will be greatly felt by all who served with him. Naturally, our thoughts are with his family during this sad and difficult time."

Members of 14 Signal Regiment, based at Cawdor Barracks, Brawdy, Pembrokeshire, specialise in electronic warfare. The regiment was sent to Afghanistan on 14 June and has been working with members of the local army and police to bring order to Helmand.

Des Browne, the Secretary of State for Defence, said yesterday that L/Cpl Hetherington's death had strengthened Britain's resolve in its mission in Helmand. "I'm very sad about the death of L/Cpl Hetherington, a 22-year-old man who gave his life in what I consider to be a very noble cause," he said. "And that is helping to secure the freedom of the people of Afghanistan from decades of oppression and from violence that has caused the loss of two million of their own lives in securing their freedom.

"We are there as part of the Nato mission to help rid Afghanistan of these terrorists and provide security to help rebuild."

The unstable province has seen repeated firefights between Nato forces and Taliban insurgents.

British troops are in the central Asian state to help rebuilding and to tackle terrorism and heroin cultivation as part of a multinational Nato force.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence denied reports that the fierce fighting in Afghanistan has depleted stocks of ammunition and vehicle spares.

L/Cpl Hetherington is the 14th British soldier to be killed in action in Afghanistan since November 2001.