Three Paras killed in Afghanistan blast

Author: By Sam Marsden, Press Association

The servicemen, from the Parachute Regiment, died after their Jackal armoured
vehicle was hit by an explosion north of Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province
early yesterday afternoon.

Their families have been informed.

The news came as Nato’s new Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that more
troops are needed if Nato’s mission in Afghanistan is to be successful.

Mr Rasmussen said the organisation would need to step up military efforts in
the “coming months and years”, alongside increased civil reconstruction, in
order to secure peace.

But he warned there would be no military solution alone, highlighting the need
to provide Afghans with better life opportunities and strengthen the
country’s police and armed forces.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme from Afghanistan, Mr Rasmussen – who
took over from Jaap de Hoop Scheffer earlier this month – said he had seen
progress compared with previous visits.

He said the criteria of success for Nato’s mission was gradually to hand over
responsibility for security to the Afghan people, allowing the police and
army to take over “province by province as their capacity develops”.

Asked whether more troops – including British service personnel – were
required, the Secretary General replied: “Honestly speaking I think we need
more troops.

“I have seen progress in the south, not least thanks to the increase in the
number of troops. So definitely the number of troops matters.

“However, we also have to realise that there is no military solution solely.
We have to provide the Afghan people with better life opportunities as well
if we are to win hearts and minds, and this will be at the core of our new

“In a few weeks’ time our commanders in the field will provide us with an
updated assessment of the situation. Based on that we will take the
necessary decisions to proceed.”

Mr Rasmussen’s comments came on the day the latest British soldier to be
killed in Afghanistan was being flown home.

Craftsman Anthony Lombardi, 21, from Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, died in an
explosion in Babaji in Helmand Province on Tuesday.

The mechanic, from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, was driving
a Spartan vehicle on a supply convoy when it was hit by the blast.

He was part of British forces holding territory won in Operation Panther’s
Claw, a massive UK-led offensive to drive the Taliban out of a former
stronghold in Helmand.

Craftsman Lombardi’s death took the number of British servicemen and women
killed in Afghanistan since operations began in October 2001 to 192.

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