British army Gurkha dies 18 months after Afghan blast

3rd January 2012, Comments 0 comments

A Nepalese Gurkha soldier serving in the British army has died in hospital a year and a half after being injured in a bomb blast in southern Afghanistan, defence officials in London said Tuesday.

The soldier, from 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, died Monday in Birmingham, central England, where he was receiving treatment after being hit by a homemade bomb explosion in Helmand province in June 2010.

"It is with great sadness that I must confirm the death of a Gurkha soldier from 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, who had previously been seriously injured in Afghanistan," said his commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel David Robinson.

His death brings the number of British troops killed serving in Afghanistan to 395 since the launch of military action in 2001. Of these, 351 were killed in combat.

His next of kin have been informed, the defence ministry said in a statement.

Britain has some 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, mainly based in Helmand where they are battling a Taliban insurgency. Britain intends to pull out all its combat troops by 2015.

Around 3,500 Gurkhas, recruited from Nepal, currently serve in the British army, including in Afghanistan, and they have their own brigade, of which the Royal Gurkha Rifles are part.

About 200,000 Gurkhas fought for Britain in World War I and World War II and more than 45,000 have died in British uniform. They have a reputation for ferocity and bravery and are known for their distinctive curved Kukri knives.

© 2012 AFP

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