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Soldier shot dead in training area

A young Irish soldier who survived a tour in Afghanistan has been shot dead in a military training area.

The Ministry of Defence said Ranger Michael Maguire died during a live firing exercise at the Castlemartin Ranges in Pembrokeshire, Wales, on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old joined the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment in May 2010 and deployed to Afghanistan in September that year.

He was shot by a stray bullet and died at the scene.

Major Richard Bell, Ranger Maguire's company commander, said the soldier had been one of their very best.

"His loss has devastated everyone who knew him," he said. "Michael was always going to stand out from the crowd. Not only because he stood a towering 6ft 7ins tall, but because of his vastly cheerful outlook on life, natural charisma and irrepressible good humour.

"All of this ensured that he was extremely popular throughout the company and his loss is keenly felt."

It is believed Ranger Maguire went to school at St Goban's College, near Bantry, in Co Cork.

His death is being investigated by Dyfed Powys Police with the assistance of the Health and Safety Executive. Dyfed Powys Police said the soldier's family and the Coroner have been informed.

His commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Colin Weir, said: "The entire Battalion is deeply shocked by this tragic event, and all our thoughts and prayers are with Ranger Maguire's family at this difficult time. He was a deeply professional and likeable young man and will be sorely missed."