UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, Irish Guards during an operation in Afghanistan, March 2011. One of the Irish Guards' roles in Afghanistan is mentoring soldiers from the Afghan National Army

Two soldiers from 1st Battalion Irish Guards have been killed in an explosion in Afghanistan, six days before they were due to return to the UK.

The Ministry of Defence said the soldiers died on Wednesday in an explosion in central Helmand province.

The vehicle the soldiers were travelling in was hit by a roadside bomb as they returned to base from an operation with Afghan forces aimed at disrupting insurgent groups.

The soldiers' families have been told.

The soldiers and Afghan forces had searched a number of compounds in the Nahr-e Saraj district before the blast.

Spokesman for Task Force Helmand Lt Col Tim Purbrick said: "On completion of the operation, their patrol had just left an Isaf base in order to return to their own camp - to commence their handover to the next unit before they were due to return home in six days - when the vehicle in which the two soldiers were travelling was struck by an improvised explosive device.

"Both men were recovered to an Isaf base, however, tragically, both had lost their lives."

The deaths take to 362 the total number of UK military personnel to have died since operations in Afghanistan began in 2001.

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