British soldier killed in Afghanistan gun battle

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A British soldier was shot dead during a gun battle in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence in London announced.

The soldier, from 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, was killed in a small arms firefight with insurgents in the Nad-e Ali District of the troubled Helmand Province.

The death brings to 293 the number of British troops killed since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001. Of these, at least 258 were killed as a result of hostile action.

He is the fourth British soldier killed this month.

"He died seeking to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans," said Task Force Helmand spokesman Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith.

"The soldier was part of a combined foot patrol, consisting of Afghan National Police and British soldiers, that was seeking to provide security for the local population when he was engaged and killed by small arms fire.

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

Next of kin have been informed.

Britain has around 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, largely battling Taliban militants in Helmand.

Britain's new coalition government has put Afghanistan at the top of its foreign policy agenda.

© 2010 AFP

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