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UK soldier killed in Afghanistan

A soldier from the Royal Engineers was killed in action in Afghanistan today, the Ministry of Defence said.

The serviceman was killed as a result of enemy fire while on operations east of Kabul.

His next of kin have been informed and have requested the customary period of grace before further details are released, said a spokesman.

The death takes to 447 the number of UK service members who have lost their lives since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001 and is the ninth this year.

The majority of British forces are in Helmand Province, in the south of the country, but some also operate elsewhere, including in and around the capital, Kabul.

The drawdown of British troops is under way, and all combat troops are due to have left by the end of 2014.

There are just four bases remaining outside Camp Bastion, due to be closed down one by one in the new year, and the number of personnel has been reduced from 9,000 at the start of the year to around 5,200.

During a pre-Christmas visit to Helmand last week, David Cameron said Britain had accomplished its mission in Afghanistan.

Touring Camp Bastion in what is likely to be his last seasonal meet-and-greet with troops on the ground there, the Prime Minister said: "To me, the absolute driving part of the mission is a basic level of security so it doesn't become a haven for terror.

"That is the mission, that was the mission and I think we will have accomplished that mission and so our troops can be very proud of what they have done."

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