Soldier killed in Afghanistan named as Zak Cusack

Image caption,
Gunner Cusack was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan

A soldier shot dead during a firefight in Afghanistan has been named as Gunner Zak Cusack.

The Ministry of Defence said Gunner Cusack, of the 4th Regiment Royal Artillery, was from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

He was shot on Wednesday during a joint foot patrol with Afghan National Army personnel near Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand.

In a statement through the MoD, the 20-year-old's family paid tribute to his courage, compassion and charisma.

It was Gunner Cusack's second tour of duty in Afghanistan, having first been deployed on his 18th birthday in 2007.

In their statement, his family said: "Zak was a courageous, compassionate and charismatic young man. We are justly proud of not only the job that he did, but of the complete person we all knew and loved."

Commanding officers praised his professionalism, energy and character.

Taliban intimidation

Expressing condolences to the family, Defence Secretary Liam Fox said: "It is clear that he was hugely valued by his friends and comrades as a professional and selfless soldier, and they all speak highly of his wit and strong spirit."

He said he had been killed while providing security to the local population following "recent attempts by the Taliban to intimidate them".

Earlier, the Ministry of Defence said a marine from 40 Commando Royal Marines had been killed in a separate incident in Helmand, also on Wednesday.

His next of kin have been informed, but his name has not been released yet.

He was killed in an explosion while on patrol.

The total number of UK service personnel killed in Afghanistan since 2001 has now reached 288.

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