British soldier shot dead in southern Afghanistan: ministry

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A British soldier was shot dead while on foot patrol in southern Afghanistan, defence officials said on Thursday.

The soldier from 1st Battalion the Rifles was on a joint patrol with Afghan police on Wednesday in the village of Haji Khodin Nazar, in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province, the Ministry of Defence said.

"The soldier was on a partnered patrol with the Afghan uniformed police when they came under small arms fire during which he was fatally wounded," said military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Tim Purbrick.

His next of kin have been informed.

His death brings to 381 the number of British troops killed since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001. Of these, at least 337 were killed in combat.

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 mainly based in Helmand, battling Taliban insurgents and training up local security forces.

© 2011 AFP

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