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Soldiers' families speak of anguish

The heartbroken families of six soldiers killed in the deadliest single attack on British forces in Afghanistan since 2001 have spoken of their anguish.

The men - five of them aged between 19 and 21 - died when their Warrior armoured vehicle was blown up by a massive improvised explosive device (IED).

Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 33, of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, was killed alongside Corporal Jake Hartley, 20, Private Anthony Frampton, 20, Private Christopher Kershaw, 19, Private Daniel Wade, 20, and Private Daniel Wilford, 21, all of 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, telling the BBC they were "very proud of it".

The soldiers, who had only been in Afghanistan for a few weeks, were hit by the blast about 25 miles north of the capital of Helmand Province, Lashkar Gah, at 6.30pm local time (2pm UK time) on Tuesday. The force of the explosion turned the Warrior upside down and blew off its gun turret. Ammunition on board the vehicle ignited, causing a fierce fire that burned for many hours and severely hampered rescuers.

In a moving tribute to his soldiers Lieutenant Colonel Zac Stenning, commanding officer of 3 Yorks, said: "Six of our brothers have fallen. It has been a sad day."

The mother of Pte Frampton, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, broke down in tears as she described her devastation at losing her son. Margaret Charlesworth, 47, said: "He was a legend to us and all who knew him. We are heartbroken."

Pte Wade was about to become a father with his fiancee Emma Hickman, 19, who is due to give birth in June. Speaking outside the family home in Warrington, Cheshire, his uncle Dave Hamilton said: "Emma adored Dan. He was her life, and will remain so, both in her heart and through the life of their first child."

Pte Kershaw, the youngest of the men killed on Tuesday, deployed to Afghanistan last month despite having second thoughts after one of his closest friends, Rifleman Sheldon Steel, 20, was killed in Helmand last November. His father Brian Kershaw, 45, said: "He knew there were dangers, he knew the risks. I don't think he fully understood until he lost one of his best mates a few months ago - Sheldon, who was one of the last ones killed."

The tragedy was the biggest single loss of life for British forces in Afghanistan since an RAF Nimrod crash killed 14 people in September 2006. It took the number of UK troops who have died since the Afghan campaign began in 2001 to 404.


From Belfast Telegraph