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Handler and dog return together

They served together and died together. Now Army dog handler Lance Corporal Liam Tasker and his springer spaniel Theo are to be flown home together.

L/Cpl Tasker was shot on Tuesday while the pair were on patrol in Helmand province. Theo died of a seizure shortly afterwards.

Three weeks ago Theo was praised by the Ministry of Defence for making 14 finds of hidden bombs and weapons caches in just five months - a record for a dog and handler.

The 22-month-old spaniel, on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan, had uncovered so many improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that his time in the country was extended by a month.

Serving with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, L/Cpl Tasker had praised the dog for his dedication.

"I love my job and working with Theo. He has a great character and never tires," he said last month. "He can't wait to get out and do his job and will stop at nothing."

L/Cpl Tasker, 26, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, was the 358th member of the British armed forces to die since operations in Afghanistan began in 2001. He died from injuries sustained in a fire fight with the Taliban, while Theo died after returning to the main British military base Camp Bastion.

On Friday the Ministry of Defence confirmed Theo's ashes would be returned to British soil in the same aircraft as his handler. They will be flown into RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire next week.

A spokeswoman said: "A dog can not be repatriated, but they will be returned to the UK on the same day, in the same plane."

Theo is the sixth British military dog killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.

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