British soldier killed in Afghanistan gun battle

Image caption,
The soldier was serving in Helmand

A British soldier was killed in a gun battle in Afghanistan on Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The soldier was from 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, attached to 4th Regiment Royal Artillery.

He was involved in "small arms fire engagement" with insurgent forces in the Nad Ali district of Helmand province, the MoD said.

Next of kin have been informed. It brings the number of troops killed in Afghanistan since 2001 to 293.

'Actions not forgotten'

Spokesman for Task Force Helmand Lt Col James Carr-Smith said the soldier had been serving as part of the 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Battle Group.

"The soldier was part of a combined foot patrol, consisting of Afghan National Police and British soldiers, that was seeking to provide security for the local population when he was engaged and killed by small arms fire.

"He died seeking to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans. He will be sorely missed and his actions will not be forgotten."

His death came as Defence Secretary Liam Fox met his US counterpart Robert Gates in London for talks.

Prime Minister David Cameron met Mr Gates in Downing Street on Monday and restated his support for American strategy in Afghanistan.

Taliban plan

Tuesday's talks considered the outcome of last week's peace meeting in Kabul where Afghan president Hamid Karzai sought the backing of provincial, religious, tribal and other leaders for a plan to negotiate with the Taliban.

The UK government has committed itself to "maintain a strong, close and frank relationship with the United States" and to "safeguard the UK's national security and support our armed forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere".

In a visit to Washington, Foreign Secretary William Hague assured the US administration of Britain's continuing commitment in Afghanistan, where more than 9,000 UK troops are based.

Two US soldiers were also killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday.

On Monday, seven US soldiers, two Australian and one French soldier were killed, as were two civilian contractors training police.