UK soldier killed in Afghan blast
A British soldier has died in southern Afghanistan after his vehicle hit a makeshift bomb.
The Ministry of Defence said the soldier, from 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, was on an operation to disrupt insurgent activity in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand province when he was caught in a blast from an improvised explosive device. Next of kin have been informed.
Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lieutenant Colonel David Eastman, said: "The soldier gave his life pursuing peace and stability for a people that had been dominated by insurgent subjugation, threats and intimidation."
The death comes after it emerged British Special Forces seized a shipment of Iranian arms intended for the Taliban.
Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned Tehran's "completely unacceptable" behaviour following the seizure of 48 122mm rockets, which can be fired up to about 13 miles.
British Special Forces and Afghan troops discovered the weapons after a heavy firefight in which a number of insurgents were killed or captured, a source said. UK officials say detailed technical analysis has showed that the rockets, which have twice the range of the weapons currently available to the insurgents, were supplied by Iran.
The three-truck arms convoy was halted in Nimruz province in southern Afghanistan, which borders Iran, on February 5. The drivers resisted arrest and were killed, an intelligence official said.
Mr Hague said: "This is completely unacceptable. It is not the behaviour of a responsible neighbour. It is at odds with Iran's claim to the international community and to its own people that it supports stability and security in Afghanistan."
Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said: "This confirms my often repeated view of the dangers that Iran poses not only through its nuclear programme but its continuing policy of destabilising its neighbours. Supplying weapons to help the Taliban kill Isaf soldiers is a clear example of the threat they pose."
Mark Sedwill, Nato senior civilian representative to Afghanistan, said the rockets represented a "step-change in the lethal impact of weaponry infiltrating Afghanistan from Iran".