Two soldiers die in Afghanistan

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The Independent Online

*Two more British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan over the weekend, bringing the total number killed in the war to 110 since it began in 2001.

One soldier from the Royal Regiment of Scotland was killed on Saturday when he trod on a landmine while on patrol in the Lashkar Gar area.

He was killed instantly and his next-of-kin have been informed. The death follows that of Warrant Officer Dan Shirley, 32, of the Royal Logistic Corps, who was killed on Friday when his vehicle overturned. He was on patrol when the accident happened.

Warrant Officer Shirley leaves two young children. His commanding officer led tributes to him today.

Lieutenant Colonel R J McNeil OBE said: "The loss of WO2 Dan Shirley has come as a huge shock to every member of the Regiment.

"He was known to all and universally respected. More than that, he was liked and admired. He was a perfect role model for young soldiers. He was fit, irrepressibly enthusiastic and superbly professional.

"WO2 Shirley served as a member of the Parachute Regiment for 12 years before becoming a member of the Army Physical Training Corps. He was fiercely proud of being a soldier and his love of the job shone through in everything he did.

"In Afghanistan he ran the Regimental Training Wing, where he devoted his seemingly limitless energy to teaching others how to defend themselves and avoid danger. It was a role he often took out onto the ground and he was on patrol, protecting others, when a tragic accident claimed his life.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are now with WO2 Shirley's family and with his two young children. He will be deeply mourned. His memorial will be the skills that he imparted. They have already saved lives and will save more. This is a fitting tribute to an extraordinary soldier."

WO Shirley's friend Sergeant Nick Murphy said he was "the epitome of the Airborne soldier".

He added: "He was extremely fit, incredibly passionate about everything he did and was 100 per cent professional at all times.

"Dan was massively proud of his profession and never let anyone forget that he was originally a soldier with the Parachute Regiment. He was always talking about his family and loved taking his children to watch his beloved Leicester City. We will all miss his endless banter, energy and sense of humour."

Defence Secretary Des Browne praised WO Shirley's professionalism and determination.

He said: "I know that he will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at what must be the most difficult of times."

The soldier killed yesterday in Afghanistan by a mine explosion was from B Company 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.

He was on patrol in the Lashkar Gar area when he stepped on a "legacy" anti-personnel mine at 11am yesterday.

He was killed instantly. Next of kin have been informed.

The MoD spokesman said: "He was part of a vehicle checkpoint patrol operating in the Lashkar Gar area when they received a report of an RPG attack on a civilian aircraft at Bost airfield in Lashkar Gar.

"When investigating this they dismounted their vehicles and that is when what is believed to have been a legacy anti-personnel mine detonated, killing the soldier instantly.

"The soldier's next of kin have been informed and have requested a 24-hour period of grace before further details are released."

The latest death takes to 110 the number of British service personnel who have lost their lives since the start of operations in Afghanistan in November 2001.

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