British soldier killed by bomb in Afghanistan: ministry

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A British soldier was killed by a bomb while on patrol in southern Afghanistan, the defence ministry said Tuesday.

The serviceman from 1st Battalion The Rifles died in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province, it said in a statement.

"The soldier was part of a foot patrol which had been deployed to meet and talk to the local people," said Lieutenant Colonel Tim Purbrick, spokesman for Task Force Helmand.

"The patrol had left their base and was moving to rendezvous with another patrol when the soldier was fatally struck by an improvised explosive device. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

The soldier's next of kin have been informed, the statement said.

The death brings to 366 the number of British troops killed since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001. Of these, at least 321 were killed through hostile action. The soldier was the 18th to die this year.

Britain has about 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, making it the second-largest contributor after the United States to the NATO-led coalition.

News of the death comes as US President Barack Obama is on a state visit to London during which he will discuss with British Prime Minister David Cameron plans to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

© 2011 AFP

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