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Last Updated: Friday, 8 September 2006, 23:03 GMT 00:03 UK
Dead Afghanistan soldier is named
Lance Corporal Luke McCulloch
Lance Corporal Luke McCulloch was killed in Helmand province
Tributes have been paid to a British soldier who was killed when his patrol was attacked in Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Luke McCulloch, 21, of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Irish Regiment, was killed in fighting with Taleban rebels in Helmand province.

He was one of three British soldiers killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael McGovern, L/Cpl McCulloch's commanding officer, described him as a "truly outstanding soldier" who was "very colourful".

He said the soldier, originally from Cape Town, South Africa, "was a delight to have around and always the centre of attention".

He went on: "Operationally, he was extremely experienced and served on Op Telic 1, the liberation of Iraq, and in Northern Ireland.

"Most recently, he completed a six-month tour of Baghdad and southern Iraq.

"He loved soldiering and was one of the first to volunteer to deploy to Afghanistan just to be with his mates."

Opium production

L/Cpl McCulloch was one of three soldiers who died in Afghanistan on Wednesday.

The other two were named as Corporal Mark William Wright, 27, from Edinburgh, of the Parachute Regiment, and L/Cpl Paul Muirhead, 29, of the Royal Irish Regiment, from Bearley, Warwickshire.

Cpl Wright died after a patrol entered an unmarked minefield in Helmand province. He died attempting to save the life of an injured paratrooper.

And L/Cpl Muirhead was injured in an attack on his base at Musa Quala, Helmand Province. He died from his injuries five days after the attack.

About 4,000 UK troops are in Helmand as part of a Nato peace keeping force.

They are the British Army, and the British should support them in what they do
Mrs Harrison, North Yorkshire

The area is where most of Afghanistan's opium production is concentrated, and sees regular deadly violence blamed on Taleban fighters or drug lords.

The total number of UK troops killed while on operations in Afghanistan since 2001 now stands at 40.

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