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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 August 2007, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
RAF gunner killed in Afghanistan
51 Squadron RAF in training
The 51 Squadron training before their deployment to Afghanistan
An RAF serviceman has been killed in an explosion in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has said.

A gunner from 51 Squadron RAF Regiment was killed in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, shortly after midnight local time (2030 BST).

Personnel from the squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth, Moray, were on a routine security patrol when one of its vehicles was caught in an explosion.

Next of kin have been informed. Two other servicemen were hurt.

A civilian interpreter was also killed in the blast during the patrol around Kandahar airfield, the main hub for international forces flying in and out of southern Afghanistan.

The two other wounded servicemen are said to have minor injuries.

The casualties were taken by helicopter to a Nato hospital inside the base, where the gunner was pronounced dead on arrival. The interpreter died of his injuries later.

The gunner is not expected to be named for at least 24 hours.

'Brave service'

Group Captain Mark Roberts, from RAF Lossiemouth, said it was not yet known what caused the explosion but an inquiry had been launched.

"RAF Lossiemouth is a close-knit family and when members of that family are killed or injured we all feel it," he said.

"Our immediate concern is for the families, and our highly professional welfare staffs are working hard to provide the support that they require."

Moray MP Angus Robertson extended his condolences to the family and friends of the serviceman.

"The death of someone stationed locally at RAF Lossiemouth brings home the risks our brave service personnel face on operations," he said.

"News of this fatality comes almost one year to the day since the Nimrod from RAF Kinloss crashed near Kandahar killing 14 people aboard."

The RAF Regiment's 51 Squadron had been in Afghanistan since April and were due to return home in the next few weeks.

The latest death takes the total number of UK troops killed while on operations in Afghanistan since 2001 to 74.

Last week, three soldiers from The Royal Anglian Regiment were killed in Helmand province in a "friendly fire" incident.

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