Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Sunday, 23 November 2008

Footage released of Afghan battle

MoD footage of the battle in which a Gurkha was killed

The Ministry of Defence has released footage of an intense two-day battle in which the first Gurkha to die in Afghanistan lost his life.

Rifleman Yubraj Rai, 28, was killed on 4 November when his patrol was attacked in Helmand province.

The images show his unit in battle south of the key town of Musa Qala, once under Taleban control. He had volunteered for the operation.

A second Gurkha has since died in the seven-year campaign in Afghanistan.

Operation Mar Nonu - which means "operation aggressive snakeman" in Nepalese - was launched on the day Rifleman Rai died.

Rifleman Yubraj Rai
Rifleman Rai had also served in Iraq, Sierra Leone and Bosnia

The operation was aimed at expanding the area controlled by the British and the Afghan National Army.

The footage shows an Apache gunship and Warrior armoured vehicles at hand to offer fire support.

Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion the Royal Gurkha Rifles took the lead to the south of Musa Qala against the Taleban's fighters.

Rifleman Rai was shot dead when his foot patrol came under attack.

The BBC's defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt said his unit's mission was to help clear compounds of insurgents and improvised explosive devices.

She added the operation was part of the wider counter-insurgency campaign aimed ultimately at winning over Afghan civilians and persuading the Taleban to lay down their arms.

Britain has about 8,000 troops in Afghanistan, and the world-famous Nepalese Gurkha soldiers are an integral part of the British Army.

Colour Sgt Krishnabahadur Dura, 36, was the second Gurkha to die in the conflict.

He died about two weeks after Rifleman Rai when the Warrior vehicle he was travelling in struck an explosive device in Musa Qala.




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