Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

UK soldier killed in Afghanistan

The death takes to 445 the number of UK service members who have lost their lives since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001

A British soldier has been killed in enemy fire while on patrol in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has announced.

The "fantastic" soldier, from 14 Signals Regiment (Electronic Warfare), attached to the Task Force Helmand Brigade Reconnaissance Force, died while on patrol in Helmand Province, the MoD said.

The death takes to 445 the number of UK service members who have lost their lives since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001 and is the seventh this year.

It is the first UK death in Afghanistan since Corporal William Savage, Fusilier Samuel Flint, and Private Robert Hetherington died when their Mastiff armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED) on a routine patrol on April 30.

The soldier was killed as a result of enemy fire while on a patrol in the area of Kakaran, north east of Lashkar Gah.

Despite receiving immediate medical attention, he died from his injuries at the scene, the MoD said.

Task Force Helmand spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Hywel Lewis said: "A fantastic soldier has tragically died defending his comrades. He was the brightest and the best.

"Those who served alongside him were privileged and feel his loss most deeply. Our prayers and thoughts are with his family at this extremely difficult time."

According to the army's website, electronic warfare involves finding, exploiting and possibly disrupting the enemy's communications, and the role of 14th Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare) includes attacking targets by jamming electronic systems and preventing them from working properly.

Today's death comes in the week after the last large military handover in Afghanistan as the 7th Armoured Brigade, known as the Desert Rats, took over authority for the British mission in Helmand, marking the start of the 19th phase of Operation Herrick.

The troops are expected to do little fighting on the nine-month tour - three months longer than usual - as Afghan forces take the lead on all operations.

Part of its job will be the closure of bases around Helmand and the return of equipment to the UK.

Patrol Base 2 (PB2) was the last to close this year and only five bases remain into 2014, including Camp Bastion, which are expected to eventually close.

The British presence in Afghanistan will be almost halved by the end of this year to 5,200.

All combat operations in the country should be over by the end of next year, leaving Afghan forces fully in control.

Last week outgoing Task Force Helmand commander Brigadier Rupert Jones paid tribute to the courage and achievement of his troops during their tour.