Another two British soldiers killed in Afghanistan
Another two British soldiers have died in Afghanistan, raising the military toll to 302 just one day after the grim 300 milestone was reached, the Ministry of Defence in London said Tuesday.
Both men were in the 40 Commando Royal Marines and died in the Sangin district of the southern province of Helmand, where most of Britain's 9,500 troops in Afghanistan are deployed and battling Taliban insurgents.
One marine died in an explosion on Monday evening, and the other was killed in a firefight with insurgents on Tuesday.
Commenting on the first death, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith said: "He had recently returned from a patrol when he was killed by an explosion.
"He had been improving the lives of local Afghans and helping to protect them from the insurgency. He died a marine. He will be greatly missed and his sacrifice will not be forgotten. We will always remember him."
Carr-Smith also paid tribute to the second marine, who was killed in a firefight while manning a fortified position in the patrol base.
"He was involved in an exchange of fire with insurgents when he was killed by small arms fire. He died a marine, in the course of his duty and alongside his mates and Afghan National Army partners," he said.
On Monday the ministry announced the 300th military death in Afghanistan since 2001, prompting Prime Minister David Cameron to pledge to withdraw troops as soon as the war-torn state can handle its own security -- but not before.
The landmark comes during a year which has already seen the second-highest number of British fatalities since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 -- 57 -- and amid signs that most Britons want troops to be pulled out.
The death toll in Afghanistan has risen steadily since 2006 and the number of fatalities surged in 2009, when 108 troops died, many killed by makeshift bombs. The death toll reached 200 on August 15 last year.
© 2010 AFP