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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 July 2007, 20:00 GMT 21:00 UK
UK soldier killed in attack named
Sgt Barry Keen
Sgt Keen was involved in fighting the Taleban in Helmand Province
The British soldier killed in a rocket attack in southern Afghanistan has been named as Sergeant Barry Keen, 34, serving with 14 Signal Regiment.

Sgt Keen, from Gateshead, was fatally wounded when a single mortar round landed next to him, the MoD said.

He was reorganising his team in a secure compound after supporting the Afghan National Army in the fight against the Taleban when he was killed.

Despite receiving immediate medical treatment he died from his injuries.

Sgt Keen was serving with Battle Group South on operation Chakush (Hammer) aimed at disrupting Taleban forces in the upper Gereshk Valley in Helmand Province.

The operation was in its fourth day of fierce fighting.

'Widely respected'

His death brings the number of UK military fatalities in Afghanistan since 2001 to 67.

Sgt Keen, from Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, had spent nearly 18 years in the Army and his career included tours in Bosnia and Northern Ireland.

Lieutenant Dave Phillips, his Troop Commander, said Sgt Keen was "an inspirational figure within the troop, he was widely respected and well liked by all.

"The soldiers he worked with looked up to him and would willingly deploy alongside him.

"As his Troop Commander I relied upon his knowledge and experience on an almost daily basis, not once did he let me down," Lt Phillips said.

He added: "Sgt Keen will be missed by all those that knew him, not only as a tradesman and a soldier but as a friend."

Sgt Keen was on a six-month tour of Afghanistan.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Gaz Robinson, his friend and colleague, said: "My friendship with Baz goes back about 15 years and I cannot begin to describe my emotions at this time.

"I can honestly say that he has changed not one bit since I first met him. He was a quality soldier and tradesman who had the ability to make you laugh out loud with his jokes and stories.

"I will never forget the friendship we shared."

Operation Chakush

Two other NATO troops and an Afghan soldier died in a separate clash with Taleban fighters in the country on Friday.

They were killed in an area of eastern Nuristan province. Thirteen NATO soldiers were wounded in the incident.

Sgt Keen's death means three UK soldiers have been killed in three days during heavy fighting in southern Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Alex Hawkins, 22, of the Royal Anglian Regiment was the first to be killed on Wednesday, when a roadside bomb struck the vehicle he was travelling in.

The second was Guardsman David Atherton, 25, from the Grenadier Guards, who was shot during a firefight on Thursday after firing an anti-tank missile at Taleban positions.

BBC Kabul correspondent Alastair Leithead said the battles in the Gereshk valley area were a result of Operation Chakush.

Up to 1,500 British troops and 500 Afghan, Estonian, Danish and US soldiers are involved in the mission to try to force Taleban insurgents further up the valley, our correspondent said.




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