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Last Updated: Friday, 13 April 2007, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
UK soldier killed in Afghanistan
British army in Afghanistan
UK troop numbers will rise to 7,700 by the summer
A British soldier has died in Afghanistan after coming under small arms fire, defence officials have said.

The soldier, a member of the 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment, had been on a routine patrol. His next of kin have been informed.

The MoD said the attack happened after troops challenged a five-man Taleban team attempting to set up an ambush.

Later, two soldiers from the patrol were injured in a firefight with a different Taleban force.

The death took the number of UK troops killed in operations in Afghanistan since 2001 to 53.

Of the 53, 22 died from accidents, illness, or non-combat injuries, according to the MoD.

The government announced in February it would boost UK troop numbers in the country, with a total of 7,700 being stationed there by the summer.

Second incident

The soldier's regiment, known as the Vikings, is currently based near the town of Now Zad, in north-west Helmand province, in southern Afghanistan.

The MoD said the initial confrontation gave way to a firefight involving a larger Taleban force equipped with mortars, rockets, and heavy machine guns.

Paramedics were called to the scene when the soldier was hit.

Their Chinook helicopter came under fire as it landed at the scene, while an Apache attack helicopter engaged Taleban forces with its 30mm cannon.

The soldier was airlifted to the main British base at Camp Bastion, but was pronounced dead on arrival.

The second firefight lasted for more than two hours.

"An initial estimate is that a significant number of the enemy were killed," the MoD said.

The injured soldiers were also airlifted to Camp Bastion but their condition is not said to be serious.

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