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Family's tears as tragic soldier returns home

The family of a soldier killed in Afghanistan broke down in tears as his body was repatriated to the UK.

Highlander Scott McLaren's relatives comforted each other as the 20-year-old's coffin was driven through Wootton Bassett.

His parents, James and Ann, sister Kirsty and brothers James and Ross, joined other relatives in the Wiltshire town to pay tribute to their loved one.

As has become tradition, local people and Royal British Legion members joined his family and friends to line the high street in tribute yesterday.

After Highlander McLaren's body had been flown to RAF Lyneham, a private service was held at the base's chapel.

The soldier, of the 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, was found dead with gunshot wounds after vanishing from a Nato checkpoint in central Helmand province on July 4.

Highlander McLaren's disappearance sparked a 17-hour search and it is understood the military believe he was killed by enemy forces.

However, the circumstances of his death remain unclear.

The Taliban claimed it had captured him during a firefight with foreign troops in the Babaji district of Helmand and that he died in crossfire shortly afterwards.

This version of events could not be corroborated and Nato said there were no reports of a battle in the area.The Ministry of Defence gave no further details about what happened to Highlander McLaren, who was from Edinburgh.

Colleagues of the Highlander, who deployed to Afghanistan in April, described him as a man of "true grit" with a "heart of gold".

Belfast Telegraph