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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 March 2006, 00:12 GMT
UK corporal dies in Afghanistan
A British soldier has died while serving in Afghanistan, it has emerged.

Corporal Mark Cridge, 25, of 7 Signal Regiment, died on Wednesday in the southern province of Helmand, the Ministry of Defence announced.

Inquiries so far suggested the death was not caused by hostile action, said a spokesman, who declined to comment further during the investigations.

His commanding officer paid tribute to an "instantly likeable young man, well respected by all ranks".

We have all lost a soldier and friend who was very capable, good company and widely respected
Lt Col Alan Blackwell

Cpl Cridge joined the Army in April 2001 as a technician and served in Kuwait and Iraq with 3 (UK) Divisional Signal Regiment before moving to 7 Signal Regiment last summer.

He went to Afghanistan on 3 March and helped to provide communications from Camp Bastion, which is the main base for UK troops trying to improve the security of the region.

Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Alan Blackwell said: "Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

"We have all lost a soldier and friend who was very capable, good company and widely respected."

He described Cpl Cridge as "a good all-round soldier" and a natural athlete.

It is thought investigators are not linking anyone else with the death.

The UK last month began an enlarged deployment to Afghanistan, sending an extra 3,300 troops to focus on reconstruction, rather than counter-terrorism.

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