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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 September 2006, 07:49 GMT 08:49 UK
UK reaction to Afghanistan air crash
Political leaders and military experts have been giving their reaction to the news that 14 British service personnel have died when their Nimrod MR2 crashed in the southern Afghanistan province of Kandahar.

Prime Minister Tony Blair

This tragedy will distress the whole country and our thoughts go out immediately to the families of those who have died.

British forces are engaged in a vital mission in Afghanistan and this terrible event starkly reminds us of the risk that they face daily.

Des Browne, Defence Secretary

I know that the people of Britain will join me in sending our deep condolences to the loved ones of those who have lost their lives, and to the British military as it deals with the loss of friends and comrades.

This is not the time for speculation, as the operation to secure the crash site is ongoing. We will provide further information as soon as there is more to say. Everyone will understand that our first priority is to inform and support the families of those on board.

I can say, however, at this stage all the indications are that this was a terrible accident and not the result of hostile action. This tragic incident should serve to remind us all of the risks the British military shoulder on all our behalf, across the world every day.

David Cameron, Conservative Party leader

Our servicemen and women are engaged in a dangerous mission in Afghanistan, working alongside our Nato allies to bring stability and security, and support the elected government.

Afghanistan was the cradle of 9/11. We cannot allow it to slide back into being a failed narco-state and a global exporter of terrorism, at the mercy of a resurgent Taleban.

Today's tragic loss is a reminder of the extraordinarily difficult conditions in which our armed forces are operating in Afghanistan.

I saw that for myself when I visited Kandahar, Lashka Gar and Kabul a few weeks ago. Our forces are, as ever, doing a magnificent job. I pay tribute on this sad day to their skill and their courage.

Sir Menzies Campbell, Liberal Democrat leader

These soldiers have given their lives in the course of undertaking difficult and dangerous duties. Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of each of them.

We clearly need the full facts as soon as possible in order to assess the implications.

Patrick Mercer, the Conservatives spokesman on Homeland Security

I think that any military analyst would say, if you're fighting in Afghanistan, if you're fighting on the Pakistan border, you've got to be prepared for a long haul.

You've got to be prepared for a bloody engagement with doughty fighters like the Taleban.

Now if we're going to do that we've got to have the kit, the equipment, the troops, the firepower that we need to do this as effectively as we can.

Brigadier Ed Butler, Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan

Over the last few days we have experienced a number of incidents which have resulted in the tragic loss of life and injury to UK personnel serving in Afghanistan.

This has clearly caused profound personal devastation for the families, friends and colleagues of those who have made such a sacrifice and our thoughts and prayers are with all those involved.

Notwithstanding today's accident, and other losses suffered so far, the resilience, morale, and bearing of our servicemen and women is quite remarkable.

I am personally humbled by their courage and commitment in getting on with the tough job in hand; delivering over and above, and making a difference to the ordinary people of Afghanistan

Angus Robertson, SNP MP for Moray

This is shocking and tragic news particularly in a community like Moray with so many thousands of service personnel and their families.

Everybody's initial thoughts are clearly with the air crew and all those who went down on the Nimrod. Their families, their friends - these are family and friends of neighbours of people throughout Moray and this news will hit very hard - particularly as the tragic circumstances emerge.

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy

The loss of the Nimrod MR2 over Afghanistan is desperately sad and tragic news.

Our thoughts are very much with the families and loved ones of the brave and committed aircrew who lost their lives, and our priority is to provide them all with the support they require at this extremely difficult time.

There is no reason to believe that the aircraft was lost as a result of hostile action. A Board of Inquiry has been convened to determine the cause of this tragic loss.

Con Coughlin, defence editor of the Daily Telegraph

This is the worst single day that British forces have had in Afghanistan since they deployed earlier this year. It reminds us of similar air crashes that have taken place in Iraq. Given the nature of the mission in Afghanistan, to lose 14 personnel in a single incident such as this will have a very, very big impact on morale.

Major Charles Heyman, defence analyst

It's a black day. It's a disaster for our soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan. No other words can describe it. It's a big hit to morale. Believe me it really, really does affect morale.

I've been on military operations where a helicopter has ploughed in and for quite a long time you wait to get on the next helicopter just wondering what might happen to you. It's not a good thing to have happen in front of you.

Paul Beaver, defence analyst

The defence analyst said the Nimrod MR2 was not a bomber aircraft. It was used for reconnaissance and acted as a radio station, relaying messages between troops on the ground.

It's a huge loss in two key areas. It's a loss obviously of our soldiers, sailors and airmen who were killed in operations and that is very tragic but it's also a loss to this part of the fleet.

But for an aircraft this large to have a technical fault, which is what it seems to be, is unusual. We've only lost a couple of Nimrods that I can recall - one at a flying display and one for a technical malfunction about 20 years ago - so a very safe aeroplane normally. It will come as even more of a shock because of that.




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