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Last Updated: Monday, 2 May, 2005, 21:46 GMT 22:46 UK
UK soldier dies in action in Iraq
Anthony Wakefield
Anthony Wakefield's wife has said she blames Tony Blair for his death
A British soldier has been killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Anthony Wakefield, a 24-year-old Coldstream Guard, from Newcastle, had been serving with the 12th Mechanised Brigade in the south-east of Iraq.

The married father-of-three was on patrol in an armoured car when the bomb exploded near Al-Amarah on Sunday. He died of his injuries the following day.

His death takes the number of UK servicemen who have died in the Iraq conflict to 87.

Blair blamed

Another soldier from the same unit was also injured in the incident but "not seriously", the Ministry of Defence said.

Guardsman Wakefield's wife, Ann Toward, said she blamed Prime Minister Tony Blair for her husband's death.

She told ITV her husband had been "a very brave man" who was "outgoing" and "funny" and a great father.

Ms Toward - who last spoke to her husband at Easter - said she would like to tell Mr Blair: "You should not have sent the troops over, you should not have done that."

If it was not for Mr Blair's actions, she said, her children "would still have their father today, and I really do blame him for that".

To all those who were lucky enough to know him, it was clear that he loved his duty and had a very bright future ahead of him
Lt Col Andrew Williams

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme: "It appears that the bomb - what we call an improvised explosive device - was placed in the road and tragically had the effect of ending this guardsman's life."

Mr Hoon added that the soldier's death "demonstrates the continuing threat to our forces in Iraq".

He said the number of violent incidents in Britain's area of responsibility in the country had fallen. And that by "their sheer professionalism", UK forces had been able to defeat any disturbances that have arisen.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has sent his "profound condolences" to the soldier's family.

Conservative leader Michael Howard, speaking in Manchester, also expressed his "deep sympathy and sincere condolences".

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy sent his "heartfelt sympathies" to the soldier's family at this "terrible time".

UK troops in Iraq
The latest death takes the number of UK troops killed in the Gulf to 87

BBC correspondent Jim Muir, in Baghdad, said it was "fairly unusual" for the British, who were not targeted in the same way as the Americans, to take casualties.

"The British are operating in a largely Shia area where most of the population support the new government," he added.

Speaking at Labour's morning election news conference, Mr Blair said the British people should be "immensely grateful" for the work done by UK armed forces.

"It underlines, once again, the extraordinary work and sacrifice that British armed forces are making in Iraq," he said.

"They are helping Iraq become a stable and democratic country that is no longer a threat to its region and the world."

No apology

On Sunday, the prime minister was tackled on the deaths of British service personnel in Iraq on an independent radio phone-in.

He said the death of a British soldier was "a deeply heavy responsibility" but that he could not apologise for taking the country to war.

The guardsman was part of 12 Mechanised Brigade deployed in Iraq since March when it began a six-month tour of duty, replacing the 4 Armoured Brigade.

More than 8,000 British soldiers are in south-east Iraq, the majority from the 12 Mechanised Brigade, the MoD said.

Although 87 military personnel assigned to Operation Telic have lost their lives, a further soldier on operational duty died in the Gulf in December.

Acting Chief Petty Officer Simon Owen, 38, who was not assigned to Operational Telic, died of natural causes aboard HMS Chatham.


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The soldier was killed carrying out a routine operation




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