British soldier killed in Afghanistan

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The Independent Online

A British soldier was killed in an explosion while checking for mines in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said today.

A spokesman said the soldier, from 4th Battalion the Parachute Regiment, was killed as he dismounted his vehicle in the Upper Sangin Valley yesterday afternoon.

No one else was injured and next of kin has been informed.

The MoD spokesman said: "It is with great sadness that the MoD must confirm the death of a British soldier yesterday.

"At approx 1500hrs the soldier from 4th Battalion the Parachute Regiment, attached to 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, was dismounted from his vehicle checking for mines in the Upper Sangin Valley when he was killed by a suspected IED explosion. No one else was injured in the incident."

The soldier, from 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, was killed during an engagement during a firefight in Helmand province.

The latest death takes to 108 the number of British service personnel who have lost their lives since the start of operations in Afghanistan in November 2001.

Four soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb tore through their vehicle last Tuesday, including Corporal Sarah Bryant, 26, of the Intelligence Corps, the first British woman to die on active service in Afghanistan.

The latest death came as the head of the armed forces warned that building up Afghanistan from its present "medieval status" will take decades.

The Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, said that while the military would need to be in the country for "some years", the civilian reconstruction effort will take much longer.

In a speech to journalists at Westminster, he emphasised that the key to long-term success in the country was establishing effective civilian governance.

"This is a gradual process," he said.

"This is not something that could be done in one, two or three years because we are talking about a country that is essentially medieval, that has very little in the way of infrastructure, very little in the way of human resource, that has an endemic culture of corruption."

He said that even if Afghanistan was to continue at its present "good" rate of economic growth, it would still be 15 years before it reached the level that Bangladesh is at now.

"This truly is a long-term endeavour. I don't think it is that long-term an endeavour for the military. I think we are talking about some years but we are not talking about decades.

"In terms of developing the country from an almost medieval status, that has to be an enterprise of decades."

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