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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2006, 18:37 GMT 19:37 UK
UK soldier killed in Basra named
Corporal Matthew Cornish (MoD picture)
Cpl Cornish's family were his priority, the Army said
A UK soldier killed in an attack on a base in the Iraqi city of Basra has been named by the Ministry of Defence.

Corporal Matthew Cornish, 29, from Yorkshire, was serving with the 1st Battalion The Light Infantry. He was married with two young children.

He was injured in an explosion and taken to hospital, where he later died. He was the first soldier killed in an attack on a UK military base in Iraq.

His death brings the total of UK soldiers killed in Iraq to 115.

Three British soldiers also died, and a fourth was seriously injured, on Tuesday when a vehicle patrol was ambushed by militants in southern Afghanistan. Nine UK troops have died in the country in 2006.

Helicopter evacuation

Following the Basra incident, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement: "A mortar round exploded within the perimeter of the base at approximately 3am local time (0000 BST) on Tuesday August 1.

He (Cpl Cornish) will be remembered for his heart and his great character
Lt Col Johnny Bowron
Commanding officer

"The soldier, who sustained serious injuries from the explosion, was evacuated by helicopter to hospital at Shaibah logistics base, where he sadly died from his injuries.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends."

Squadron Leader Richard Painter, a military spokesman in Basra, told the BBC it was "very difficult" to defend bases against such attacks.

"We do all that is reasonably possible under these circumstances.

"This one happened to actually fall within the perimeter. There are many, many mortar rounds used by insurgents that do not effectively fall anywhere near our bases," he said.

The MoD said on its website that Cpl Cornish enlisted in the Army in Leeds and began his career in Cyprus. His deployments included to Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone and to Iraq in 2003 and 2004.

He was nearly halfway through a six-and-a-half-month tour in Iraq with The Light Infantry, which is based in Paderborn, Germany.

His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Bowron, said: "Matthew was a great soldier, a fine friend and a marvellous husband and father.

"He will be remembered for his heart and his great character."

He added: "A Yorkshireman through and through and an enthusiastic follower of Leeds Rhinos Rugby League, he was constantly teased for his inexplicable loyalty to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

"His true passion, though, was for his family."

Lt Col Bowron added that the soldier spoke often of his wife Abby, daughter Libby and son Ethan.

"(They) were what lay closest to his heart - the rest was irrelevant."

Following Tuesday's deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, Defence Secretary Des Browne paid tribute to the work of British troops.

He said the "sad death of a British soldier in Basra" would not "deflect our support to the elected government in Iraq".

He added: "In both Iraq and Afghanistan our troops are doing a tough job magnificently well. Their courage and commitment demands nothing but admiration."

A series of bomb attacks in Iraq on Tuesday killed at least 44 people - many of them Iraqi soldiers.

At least 20 Iraqi soldiers travelling on a bus north of Baghdad were killed by a roadside bomb. And in central Baghdad's Karrada district, at least 14 people died in a suicide car bombing outside a bank where security forces were collecting pay.


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