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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 December, 2004, 14:58 GMT
Inquiry into UK soldier's death
British forces in Basra
An investigation has been launched into the death of the soldier
Military police are investigating the death of a British soldier serving in Iraq who was found dead with a gunshot wound on Sunday.

Initial inquiries suggest Sergeant Paul Connolly's death was not due to hostile action or suspicious circumstances, said the Ministry of Defence.

Sgt Connolly, 33, from the Royal Mechanical and Electrical Engineers (REME), died at Shaibah, near Basra.

He was from Crawley in West Sussex, and was separated, with three children.

His death brought the total number of fatalities among UK service personnel to 75.

He was a highly capable soldier and a hugely popular character who was widely respected and admired
Lt Colonel Nick Cavanagh
Commanding officer

Sgt Connolly's death is being investigated by the Royal Military Police (RMP).

But the MoD said it did not know when the RMP will publish its findings.

Sgt Connolly served with the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, attached to 21 Engineer Regiment of the Royal Engineers.

In a statement, the MoD said: "He joined the REME in 1989 and, after initial military training, became a metalsmith.

"He progressed to become a master welder, responsible for fabricating and welding a wide range of military equipment."

Sgt Connolly took part in operations and exercises in various countries including Germany, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Kosovo.

He was deployed in Iraq in October to help rebuild the infrastructure in southern Iraq.

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Cavanagh, the commanding officer of 21 Engineer Regiment, said: "Paul's death is a real tragedy and a terrible shock for his many comrades both in the regiment and the wider family of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

"He was a highly capable soldier and a hugely popular character who was widely respected and admired. He will be sorely missed."

The MoD has said it was consulting with the family of Sgt Connolly as to when his funeral would take place.

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