Soldier killed in Afghanistan blast

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The Independent Online

A British soldier was killed by an explosion in southern Afghanistan today, the Ministry of Defence said.

The serviceman, from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, attached to the Light Dragoons, died while on a vehicle patrol in Babaji in Helmand Province this morning.

His family have been informed.

The soldier was part of British forces holding territory won in Operation Panther's Claw, a massive UK-led offensive to drive the Taliban out of a former stronghold in Helmand.

It is believed that his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device.

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Wenham, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said: "It is with great regret that we report the death of another soldier on Operation Herrick 10.

"The loss of a soldier, friend and colleague is tragic and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time."

Panther's Claw, which ended a week ago, saw fierce fighting with insurgents as Nato and Afghan troops attempted to improve security in Helmand ahead of presidential and provincial elections on August 20.

July was the bloodiest month for British forces in Afghanistan since the mission began eight years ago, with 22 soldiers killed and scores more wounded in action.

The total UK death toll in the troubled country since the start of operations in October 2001 now stands at 192.