Page last updated at 11:41 GMT, Friday, 21 August 2009 12:41 UK

Two UK soldiers killed in Helmand

British troops in Helmand province
British troops have been providing security during the Afghan elections

Two British soldiers have been killed in an explosion in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has said.

One was from the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington's) and the other was from the 2nd Battalion The Rifles.

They were killed while on a routine foot patrol near the town of Sangin, in Helmand province, on Thursday. Their families have been informed.

Their deaths bring the total number in Afghanistan since 2001 to 206.

Lt Col Nick Richardson, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said: "It is with deep regret that we report the deaths of two soldiers in Helmand Province.

"Our deepest heartfelt thoughts and sympathies go out to the bereaved family, friends and comrades of these brave soldiers."

The MoD said the deaths were not connected to Thursday's presidential elections in Afghanistan.

This has been a very difficult summer, with major sacrifices and major losses
Prime Minister Gordon Brown

British and American troops provided security around the country after the Taliban threatened violence against anyone who tried to vote.

The soldier from the Warminster-based 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment was one of 125 extra troops deployed to Afghanistan after the UK suffered a record number of casualties last month.

He is understood to be the first of the reinforcements to be killed.

'Major sacrifices'

News of the latest deaths came as the bodies of four British soldiers killed in Helmand last week were flown home to the UK.

Sgt Simon Valentine died last Saturday, while L/Cpl James Fullarton, Fusilier Simon Annis and Fusilier Louis Carter were all killed in an explosion on Sunday.

Clockwise from top left: L/Cpl James Fullarton, Fusilier Simon Annis, Sgt Simon Valentine and Fusilier Louis Carter
The bodies of four UK soldiers killed last week have been flown home

Their bodies were flown back to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire on Friday morning and later hundreds of people are expected to line the streets of Wootton Bassett to pay their respects.

Earlier, Prime Minister Gordon Brown praised British forces for their efforts to facilitate the elections.

"What we are seeing is the first election that Afghanistan has organised for itself in 30 years," he told the BBC.

"But what we have also seen is a massive attempt by terrorists to disrupt the electoral process, to prevent people from voting, indeed to intimidate people from voting, and I want to thank our British forces for everything that they have done to make sure that these elections can take place.

"This has been a very difficult summer, with major sacrifices and major losses as a result of the campaign by the terrorists."

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