Page last updated at 12:19 GMT, Saturday, 25 July 2009 13:19 UK

UK soldier killed in Afghanistan

UK forces in Afghanistan
The soldier is 20th UK serviceman to die in Afghanistan in July 2009

A soldier from the 40th Regiment Royal Artillery has been killed in a blast in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has said.

He died on a vehicle patrol in Lashkar Gah District, Helmand, the MoD added.

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Richardson, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said: "He was one soldier, who was here for one cause, to help the Afghan people."

His death takes UK service fatalities in Afghanistan since 2001 to 189. Next of kin have been informed.

'Enormous battle'

The soldier is 20th UK serviceman to die in Afghanistan in July 2009.

An MoD spokesman said: "It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that a soldier from 40th Regiment Royal Artillery 'The Lowland Gunners', attached to The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, has been killed."

The latest fatality comes after Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said he would be sending another 125 soldiers to Afghanistan to reinforce troop numbers amid rising casualty levels.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the Chief of the Defence Staff, has warned that personnel taking part in the Operation Panther's Claw offensive faced an "enormous battle".

Ministers have been attacked by critics who say the government has not provided enough troops and equipment to Afghanistan.

The prime minister has insisted that the forces have never been better equipped.

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