Gurkhas return to Kent from tour of duty in Afghanistan

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Image caption,
The battalion lost four of its members in Afghanistan in October and July (Photo by Sgt Ian Forsyth)

Gurkha soldiers have been given a rousing welcome on their return from a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.

About 130 members of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Gurkha Rifles were greeted by family and friends at their base in Folkestone, Kent.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said it had been a "joyous" reunion despite the rain and cold.

The battalion lost four of its members in Afghanistan in July and October.

Rifleman Suraj Gurung was killed in an explosion while on patrol in Nahr-e Saraj on 2 October, Major James Joshua Bowman, Lt Neal Turkington and Cpl Arjun Purja Pun were killed by a rogue Afghan soldier on 13 July.

A total of 342 British personnel have died in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001.

Speaking after the soldiers' return, the MoD spokesman said: "It is joyous, absolutely magnificent.

"It's a grim night, we've got rain and cold and wind, but there's a crowd of about 100 Nepalese all wearing garlands and saris. It's very colourful."

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