Soldier shot dead in Afghanistan

A British soldier was shot dead by insurgents in Afghanistan yesterday as he defended a checkpoint.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that the soldier, from The Royal Gurkha Rifles, had been killed in the Nahr-e-Saraj region of Helmand province. He is yet to be named, but his relatives have been informed. It is the 383rd fatality among British forces in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001.

Meanwhile, it was claimed yesterday that the United States is set to abandon plans to keep troops on the ground in Iraq beyond the end of the year.

The Associated Press reported that American forces, after eight years in Iraq, would completely withdraw by January. A government source told the news agency that plans for US troops to continue training Iraqi security forces would not be pursued.