Page last updated at 06:56 GMT, Wednesday, 25 June 2008 07:56 UK

UK soldier killed in mine blast

Afghanistan with Helmand and Sangin
During operations in Afghanistan 108 UK troops have died

A British soldier has been killed in an explosion while checking for mines in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The soldier, from 4th Battalion the Parachute Regiment, was killed as he got out of his vehicle in the Upper Sangin Valley, Helmand, on Tuesday.

The MoD said next of kin had been informed. No-one else was injured.

The number of British troops to have died during operations in the country since 2001 is now 108.

An MoD spokesman confirmed the death "with great sadness".

He said: "At approx 1500 the soldier...was dismounted from his vehicle checking for mines... when he was killed by a suspected IED [Improvised Explosive Device] explosion."

Country 'medieval'

He was the second soldier to have died on Tuesday. Another soldier from 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment - who has not yet been named - died during a firefight in Helmand province.

Eleven British service personnel have been killed in Afghanistan since 8 June, seven of them from the Parachute Regiment.

Privates Nathan Cuthbertson, David Murray and Daniel Gamble died in a suicide bombing while on foot patrol on 8 June.

Fellow Paras L/Cpl James Bateman and Pte Jeff Doherty died under fire from the Taleban four days later.

Four soldiers were killed on 17 June when their vehicle hit a mine.

They were SAS reservists Cpl Sean Robert Reeve, L/Cpl Richard Larkin and Paul Stout, as well as the first British woman soldier to be killed in Afghanistan, Cpl Sarah Bryant, of 15 (United Kingdom) Psychological Operations Group.

The latest death came as the head of the armed forces warned that building up Afghanistan from its present "medieval" status would take decades.

The Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, speaking before the death was announced, said that while the military would need to be in the country for "some years", the civilian reconstruction effort would take much longer.

He said long-term success depended on establishing effective civilian governance, which he said was a "gradual process".

"This is not something that could be done in one, two or three years because we are talking about a country that is essentially medieval, that has very little in the way of infrastructure, very little in the way of human resource, that has an endemic culture of corruption," he added.

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