Two UK soldiers die in Afghan blast
Two British soldiers have been killed in an explosion in Afghanistan six days before they were due to return home to the UK.
The Ministry of Defence said the soldiers, from 1st Battalion Irish Guards, were killed on Wednesday when their vehicle was caught in a blast from an IED (improvised explosive device) in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.
The soldiers were killed returning from an operation where they had been searching compounds alongside troops from the Afghan National Army and C Company of the Danish Battle Group.
Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lieutenant Colonel Tim Purbrick, said: "It is with very great sadness that I have to inform you of the deaths of two soldiers from 1st Battalion Irish Guards.
"The soldiers had been conducting a partnered operation with the Afghan National Army and the Danish Battle Group during which they had successfully disrupted insurgent activity and searched a number of compounds in the Nahr-e Saraj district of central Helmand.
"On completion of the operation their patrol had just left an Isaf base in order to return to their own camp - to commence their handover to the next unit before they were due to return home in six days - when the vehicle in which the two soldiers were travelling was struck by an improvised explosive device.
"Both men were recovered to an Isaf base, however, tragically, both had lost their lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends."
Next of kin have been informed.
The deaths bring the total number of UK military personnel to have died since operations in Afghanistan began in 2001 to 362.
Earlier this week it was announced that Afghan forces are to take control of security in Lashkar Gah in July in a major step towards the withdrawal of British troops from the country.