British soldier dies in Afghan attack: officials

3rd May 2010, Comments 0 comments

A British soldier died in an explosion in southern Afghanistan while protecting fellow troops as they returned from a patrol, officials said Sunday.

The soldier, from 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, was serving with 40 Commando Royal Marines Battle Group and died near a patrol base in Sangin, Helmand Province.

"He was providing protection to his fellow soldiers who were returning from a patrol when tragically he was killed in an explosion," military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith said in a statement released by the Ministry of Defence in London.

"He will be greatly missed and his actions will not be forgotten."

The death was previously announced by NATO's International Security Assistance Force but his nationality was not revealed, in line with policy.

It brings to 175 the number of foreign soldiers who have died this year as a result of the war in Afghanistan, according to an AFP count based on one by the independent website.

A total of 520 foreign soldiers died in 2009 in Afghanistan, which is in the grip of a bloody insurgency waged by remnants of the Taliban since their ouster from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.

NATO and the United States are deploying thousands of extra troops into Afghanistan. Their number is to peak at 150,000 in August under a strategy designed to bring a swift end to the conflict.

Most of the extra troops are deploying in the south, the heartland of the insurgency, with particular attention paid to the Kandahar and Helmand provinces.

There are around 9,500 British troops in Afghanistan and 282 personnel have died there since operations started in 2001.


© 2010 AFP

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