British veterinary soldier shot dead in Afghanistan
A British soldier from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps was shot dead in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence in London said.
The soldier was killed while on operations in the Nahr-e Saraj district in the restive Helmand Province.
The RAVC is responsible for the provision, training and care of animals in the army. The MoD did not specify the soldier's role, but the British military use sniffer dogs to detect improvised explosive devices planted by the Taliban.
The death comes as Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited Britain for talks on the planned transition of security responsibility from international troops to their Afghan counterparts in 2014.
Karzai paid tribute to the sacrifices made by British troops in Afghanistan, in a joint press conference with Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street.
The death brings to 358 the number of British troops killed since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001. Of these, at least 314 were killed through hostile action.
"The soldier was patrolling the area in the north of Nahr-e Saraj when he was hit by enemy gun fire," said Wing Commander Martin Tinworth, a spokesman for Britain's main Camp Bastion base in Helmand.
"He has given his life in the service of his country whilst engaged in protecting the local population."
The soldier's next of kin have been informed. He was the 10th British troop to die in Afghanistan this year.
Karzai is scheduled to visit Britain's Headley Court rehabilitation centre for wounded service personnel on Wednesday.
Britain has about 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, making it the second-largest contributor after the United States to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
They are based in central Helmand, battling Taliban insurgents and increasingly training local security forces.
© 2011 AFP