Tributes to Afghan blast soldiers
The families of two British soldiers killed in an explosion in Afghanistan six days before they were due to return home have paid tribute to their loved ones.
Major Matthew Collins, 38, from Backwell in Somerset, and Lance Sergeant Mark Burgan, 28, from Liverpool, were killed on Wednesday when their vehicle was caught in a blast from an IED (improvised explosive device).
The men were both in 1st Battalion The Irish Guards.
Major Collins' family said: "Not only a soldier but a caring husband, devoted father to Freya and Charlie, caring son, wonderful brother and friend to many. We will all miss him and remember him always."
L/Sgt Burgan's wife, Leanne, said: "I am so honoured to be Mark's wife. I will always love my hero. Mark was an extremely proud Irish Guardsman, dad, husband, brother and son. He will forever be in our hearts."
The soldiers were killed returning from an operation where they had been searching compounds in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.
Major Collins was deployed as the commander to a team advising the 3rd Kandak of the UK's partnered Afghan Brigade.
Colleagues said he made a "significant improvement to the operational capability of the Afghan soldiers and officers he advised".
Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Ghika, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion, Irish Guards, said: "The loss of Major Matt Collins and Lance Sergeant Mark Burgan yesterday has been a devastating blow to the Irish Guards.
"Two more committed and professional soldiers it would be hard to meet; they epitomised what it meant to be a member of this family regiment."