Tributes for soldier killed in Afghanistan blast
Tributes have been paid to the Northern Ireland-based soldier killed in Afghanistan.
Captain Rupert Bowers from 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment — which is stationed at Palace Barracks in Holywood — was killed in an explosion during a patrol in the volatile Helmand province on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old was just weeks away from returning home.
He leaves behind wife Victoria and his newborn son Hugo, as well as parents Patrick and Jane and sister Juliet.
It is understood the soldier, from Wolverhampton, had been working alongside an Afghan security forces patrol tasked with disrupting insurgent activity in the Mirmandab region of Nahr-e Saraj district when the IED was detonated.
Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Mackenzie, said: “Sadly, I must report that a soldier from the 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment was killed in an explosion from an improvised explosive device while working alongside an Afghan security forces patrol to disrupt insurgents in the Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand province.
“The thoughts and condolences of everyone serving in the Task Force are with his family and friends.”
The soldier's family have been informed and have asked for a period of grace before further details are released.
North Down MLA Stephen Farry said: “This death is another reminder of the dangerous situation that still exists in Afghanistan.
“The bravery of all our service personnel in Afghanistan, who are trying to bring peace to a troubled country, should be rightly commended.”
Hundreds of troops from 2 Mercian deployed to Afghanistan for a six month tour of duty in October.
In November the regiment lost 21-year-old Private Matthew Haseldin, who was shot dead during a firefight with the Taliban in Helmand.