Soldier killed in Afghanistan

Author: By Sam Marsden, Press Association

The serviceman, from 2nd Battalion The Rifles, died while on a foot patrol
near Gereshk in central Helmand Province yesterday afternoon.

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Richardson, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said:
“It is with extreme sadness that I must report the death of a brave soldier.

“He laid down his life for his country and for the good people of Afghanistan.

“We grieve for his loss and join with his family and friends to mourn his
passing. He will always be remembered.”

The soldier’s next of kin have been informed.

Sixteen British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this month as Nato
forces step up operations against the Taliban.

Many died taking part in Operation Panchai Palang, or Panther’s Claw, a major
assault against insurgents in Helmand ahead of next month’s Afghan
elections.

Some 3,000 troops are involved in the operation, which began on June 19 and
has seen fierce fighting and significant casualties on both sides.

The serviceman who died yesterday was not taking part in Operation Panchai
Palang.

Thousands of people lined the streets of Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire on
Tuesday to pay their respects as the bodies of eight soldiers killed in a
bloody 24-hour period last week were brought back to the UK.

They included five members of 2 Rifles – three of them aged just 18 – who were
killed during a foot patrol near the town of Sangin in central Helmand on
July 10.

There has been intense controversy in recent weeks about whether the
Government is providing enough resources for UK forces in Afghanistan.

In particular former defence chiefs and opposition politicians have warned
that a shortage of helicopters could be putting British lives at risk.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown insisted yesterday that UK troops were “properly
equipped” and promised: “We will do whatever is necessary and what is right
to equip our Armed Forces.”

The latest death takes the number of UK troops who have died in Afghanistan
since the start of operations in October 2001 to 185, six more than the
total death toll in the Iraq war.

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