A female soldier from Northern Ireland killed while on patrol in Afghanistan yesterday may have been killed by a rogue Afghan ally.
She is believed to be aged 25 and from Comber in Co Down.
The woman, from 3 Medical Regiment, and a Royal Marine from 40 Commando were attacked while on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed they died from injuries sustained during the patrol.
Their families have been informed.
Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Major Laurence Roche, said: “I am extremely sorry to announce the deaths of a Royal Marine from 40 Commando and a soldier from 3 Medical Regiment serving with Task Force Helmand.
“This is dreadful news for all of us serving in Afghanistan. Our sincere condolences go to their families, friends and colleagues at this time of grief.”
Speaking from Afghanistan, the BBC’s defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt said that according to one Afghan source, the deaths were from a “green on blue” attack — where coalition troops are killed by their Afghan allies — but other local sources disputed that.
A source said last night that they understood the Taliban had issued a statement in Afghanistan suggesting the incident was a green on blue attack.
But the source stressed the details of the incident were still unclear because the people who knew what had happened were not in a “state” to write down witness statements or explain what they saw.
The source said the Marine and soldier appeared to have been killed by gunshot wounds inflicted by insurgents, but the full details of the incident had not yet been confirmed.
Should the report prove true, the soldier will not have been the first from Northern Ireland to be killed by a renegade Afghan soldier.
Lieutenant Neal Turkington (26), from Portadown, Co Armagh, was killed in 2010 in a rocket-propelled grenade blast at a base in Nahr-e Saraj.
He was one of three soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles killed by a rogue member of the Afghan National Army.
Yesterday’s deaths take the total number of UK service personnel who have died since operations by allied forces began in Afghanistan in October 2001 to 435.