UK soldier killed in suicide attack in Afghanistan

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion Royal Regiment Fusiliers return to their base, Sterga 2, after conducting a successful dawn foot patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Image caption The soldier is the eighth British serviceman to have been killed in Afghanistan this year

A British soldier has been killed in a suicide blast in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

The serviceman from the 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment was killed "as a result of an explosion during a vehicle-borne suicide attack".

The "hugely experienced soldier" had been on patrol in the Kamparack area, 25 miles (40km) north-east of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province.

His next of kin have been informed, the MoD said.

The soldier's death brings the number of UK service personnel who have died in Afghanistan since 2001 to 446.

'Commanded great respect'

Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lt Col Hywel Lewis, said; "A hugely experienced soldier has tragically died while serving with his comrades in Afghanistan.

"He commanded great respect throughout his regiment. Those who served alongside him were privileged to operate with a highly professional soldier who led by example.

"Our prayers and thoughts are with his family at this extremely difficult time."

The soldier is the eighth British serviceman killed in Afghanistan this year. The last was L/Cpl James Brynin, who was killed on patrol in Helmand last month.

British troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, when all Nato combat operations are scheduled to finish, although a small number will remain in support roles.

The number of British troops in Afghanistan was reduced to 9,000 before the end of 2012 and is set to fall to 5,200 by the end of 2013.

British troops are now placed at five bases - down from a peak of more than 130 - and rarely go on patrol.

Last month, the 7th Armoured Brigade, the Desert Rats, became the last major British force deployed to Helmand.

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