Page last updated at 15:05 GMT, Thursday, 14 August 2008 16:05 UK

Dead Kabul attack soldier named

Signaller Wayne Bland
Signaller Bland was a keen footballer and a fan of Leeds United

Defence officials have named a British soldier killed when a suicide bomber drove a car into a Nato convoy on the outskirts of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

The Ministry of Defence said he was 21-year-old Signaller Wayne Bland, from Leeds, who died on died on Monday.

Two fellow soldiers from 16 Signal Regiment were wounded. Afghan police said three civilians were killed and 12 more were injured.

Some 115 UK personnel have now died on operations in Afghanistan since 2001.

A family statement described Signaller Bland as "our true hero".

"Wayne was a much-loved son, grandson, brother and uncle who served his country with distinction and sadly paid the ultimate price," it said.

His strength and personality marked him out for a bright future in the Army
Lt Col Justin Hodges
Regiment commanding officer Lt Col Justin Hodges said Signaller Bland had been in the final week of his tour.

"This cheerful and vibrant young man will be sorely missed by his friends, but even more so by his family," he said.

"His loss is all the more poignant for his family who were expecting him home on leave in the next few weeks."

Col Hodges added: "Signaller Wayne Bland was a superb soldier, full of character and a highly popular member of 16 Signal Regiment."

Signaller Bland had been a devoted supporter of Leeds United football club.

"A passionate footballer, he represented the regiment on many occasions," said Lt Col Hodges.

"It was abundantly clear to everyone who met Wayne that his strength and personality marked him out for a bright future in the Army."

Colleagues' grief

Signaller Bland was providing top-cover for the convoy on a route familiarisation patrol in Kabul at the time of the attack.

He was taken to military hospital, where he later died from his injuries.

"Wayne was an extremely popular young man who did not shy away from the potential danger he faced each day on the streets of Kabul, choosing instead to confront it in his usual self-confident manner," said Maj Neil Coatsworth.

He added: "The physical grief demonstrated throughout the squadron when the terrible news broke bore testament to his popularity.

"Everybody knew Wayne, and we all knew him to be a fun-loving, occasionally mischievous individual, who always managed a smile no matter what the circumstances."

Colleagues said Signaller Bland had been devoted to his family, including his nieces.

Defence Secretary Des Browne described him as a "model British soldier, demonstrating bravery and professionalism in every aspect of his work, which was vital to supporting our operations in Afghanistan".

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