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Two soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Two British soldiers have been shot and killed in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The soldiers, from the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment and 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment, were hit by small arms fire while on patrol in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand Province.

Next of kin have been informed.

Lieutenant Colonel David Eastman, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said: "It is my very sad duty to report the loss of two soldiers from 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment and 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment this morning.

"The soldiers were patrolling an area in the north of Nad-e Ali District when they were hit by small arms fire from which they both subsequently died.

"Both soldiers were engaged in vital work bringing stability, governance and development to an area that had been dominated by insurgent intimidation.

"They have given their lives fighting oppression and protecting those less able to protect themselves - we will never forget them. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families at this tragic time."

A total of 354 UK military personnel have now died since operations in Afghanistan began in 2001. The two latest deaths mean four soldiers have now died in the space of five days.

It was announced earlier this week that Ranger David Dalzell, 20, of The Royal Irish Regiment, died on Friday, also in the Nad-e Ali district. Ranger Dalzell, from Bangor in County Down, Northern Ireland, was accidentally shot by a colleague, his family said.

On Saturday, Warrant Officer Class 2 Colin Beckett, Company Sergeant Major of 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, was killed as he was attempting to secure an area in Shaheed, a village on the Nahr-e-Bughra canal, when he was caught in a roadside bomb. The 36-year-old from Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, was described as a "truly special husband" by his widow Rachel, who is due to give birth to a girl later this month.

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