Shot British soldier named by MoD

Pte Matthew Haseldin
Image caption Pte Haseldin was described as a 'young man of immense character'

A British soldier shot dead in Afghanistan has been named as Pte Matthew Haseldin, from 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment.

He was killed on Thursday in Nahr-e Saraj District, Helmand Province, the Ministry of Defence said.

Pte Haseldin, 21, from Settle in North Yorkshire, was taking part in a patrol when it was attacked by insurgents.

His death takes the total number of service personnel killed in Afghanistan since 2001 to 384.

Pte Haseldin joined the army in February and was deployed to Afghanistan in September.

His parents, Alan and Jill, said: "Matthew was a loving son and we are very proud of him. He had only been in the Army for a few months. Friends and family will miss him greatly. Rest in peace."

'Hugely popular'

Lt Col Colin Marks, commanding officer of 2 Mercian Regiment, said Pte Haseldin "stood out as a young man of immense character" who had travelled widely.

He said: "Hugely popular, it was impossible to tell that he was the newest member of 7 Platoon, all of whom loved him like a brother. One of the team, Matthew was at the centre of most things and enjoyed a game of cards during precious rest periods.

"Steadfast in battle, Matthew faced more challenges in the few short weeks he spent in Helmand than many soldiers experience in a lifetime. He died standing firm in the face of a determined enemy, in the highest traditions of The Mercian Regiment."

Pte Haseldin was part of an operation to maintain freedom of movement for the local population, when the group was attacked by insurgents.

His battalion is responsible for keeping open Route 611, which is a key "main supply route" linking Gereshk city with other district centres in Helmand province and beyond, including Kandahar City.

On Thursday morning his patrol was carrying out a check when they came under sustained attack from small arms and grenades during which Pte Haseldin was fatally wounded, the Ministry of Defence said.