Royal Marine killed in Afghanistan

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The Independent Online

A Royal Marine was killed in southern Afghanistan on Christmas Eve, the Ministry of Defence said today.

The serviceman, from 42 Commando, died from enemy fire while on a mission in the Nad-e-Ali district near Lashkar Gah in Helmand province.

Task Force Helmand spokeswoman Commander Paula Rowe said: "The death of this Royal Marine is a tragic loss and coming so close to Christmas, this is particularly poignant.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this dreadfully sad time."

Next of kin have been informed.

Royal Navy Captain Mark Windsor, spokesman for the Nato forces in Afghanistan, said: "We are saddened by this brave serviceman's death and our deepest condolences go to his family and loved ones, especially during this holiday season.

"This dedicated professional risked his life to help bring security and stability to the people of Afghanistan. ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) will continue to fight for the cause for which this brave serviceman gave his life."

The Royal Marine is the 136th British serviceman to die in Afghanistan since the start of operations in October 2001. He is also the eleventh Royal Marine to have died in the past two months.

The death comes just days after Defence Secretary John Hutton said the UK would consider "very, very carefully" any request from incoming US president Barack Obama to send more troops to the troubled country.

Mr Hutton did not rule out adding to Britain's commitment in Afghanistan,

Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently announced that the number of troops in the area would be boosted by 300 to a total of 8,300.