Accident blamed as 50th UK soldier dies in Iraq

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The Independent Online

A military investigation has been launched into the death of a British soldier who was shot near Basra.

Sergeant John Nightingale, a 32-year-old Territorial Army soldier serving with 217 Transport Squadron at Shaibah, was killed on Tuesday.

Yesterday the Ministry of Defence said little except that Sgt Nightingale died in a "tragic firearms incident" unrelated to enemy action and that the Military Police were investigating. Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, said: "This incident is causing much concern in the armed forces because it appears to have been a terrible accident."

Sgt Nightingale, who was engaged to a non-commissioned officer in the RAF, was the 50th British soldier to be killed since the start of the war. A veteran of three peacekeeping tours in the Balkans, the electronics worker and keen rugby player from Leeds was in Iraq with the 150 Regiment (Volunteers) of the Royal Logistic Corps and managed the distribution of supplies across Iraq.

His commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel John Bevan, said: "Sgt John Nightingale was a good man, a strong character and excellent senior NCO. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones."