British soldier drowned in stream: Afghan commander

5th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

A British soldier who disappeared and was found dead in southern Afghanistan drowned after going for a swim in a stream near his military post, an Afghan commander said Tuesday.

The soldier's mysterious death in Helmand province, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility, forced visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron to abandon a trip to the provincial capital Lashkar Gar.

The soldier went missing from a checkpoint in the early hours of Monday and the defence ministry in London later announced that his body had been found with gunshot wounds.

The top Afghan commander for the province, Sayed Maluk, said the soldier was found dead in a stream that ran through his military base, after apparently drowning, and his body was later shot by insurgents.

"According to the information I was given... he was swimming inside his base in a stream that runs through it. The flow of water was very fast and he drowned and his body was carried out of the base," said the commander of 215 Corps in Helmand.

"When the Taliban saw the body of a British soldier in the stream they shot his dead body," he claimed.

Lieutenant Colonel Tim Purbrick, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, could not be reached for comment. In an earlier statement he said the exact cause of death and circumstances surrounding the disappearance were under investigation.

There was no immediate reaction from Cameron on the soldier's death, but he earlier told reporters travelling with him that he had cancelled his trip to Lashkar Gah after hearing of the "very worrying" disappearance of the soldier.

The Taliban claimed that its fighters kidnapped and killed a British soldier in Helmand, but the militia is known to routinely exaggerate its claims.

© 2011 AFP

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