Soldier killed in Afghanistan blast

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The Independent Online

A soldier was killed in an explosion while on foot patrol in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said today.

The soldier, from The 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, died yesterday morning as a result of the blast in Sangin, in northern Helmand province.

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Richardson, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said: "It is with extreme sadness that I must report the death of a brave soldier.

"He laid down his life for his country and the good people of Afghanistan.

"We grieve for his loss and join with his family and friends to mourn his passing."

The MoD said next of kin had been informed.

The latest casualty takes the UK death toll in the country to 186.

It comes in the wake of calls to increase the number of helicopters available to British troops.

Conservative leader David Cameron and former defence secretary John Hutton are among those who have said the Afghan campaign needs better resourcing.

Gordon Brown has insisted that UK troops are "properly equipped" and promised: "We will do whatever is necessary and what is right to equip our Armed Forces."

The latest casualty takes to 17 the number of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan this month as Nato forces stepped up operations against the Taliban.

Many died taking part in Operation Panchai Palang, or Panther's Claw - a major assault against insurgents in Helmand ahead of next month's Afghan elections.

Some 3,000 troops are involved in the operation, which began on 19 June and has seen fierce fighting and significant casualties on both sides.

The serviceman who died yesterday was not taking part in Operation Panchai Palang.

British forces have now suffered seven more casualties in Afghanistan than they did in Iraq.