Page last updated at 20:39 GMT, Sunday, 21 December 2008

UK marine killed in Afghanistan

UK serviceman in Afghanistan
The UK deployment to Afghanistan will increase early next year

A Royal Marine has been killed in an explosion in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has announced.

The serviceman, from the Commando Logistics Regiment Royal Marines, died on a routine mission north-west of Lashkar Gah, Helmand province.

Next of kin have been informed of the death on Sunday, the 135th suffered by UK troops in Afghanistan since 2001.

Cdr Paula Rowe said: "The loss of this Royal Marine will be keenly felt by the whole of Task Force Helmand."

"Our sincere and deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends and comrades at this terrible time".

"This serviceman's life was taken while helping bring peace and security to Afghanistan," said Capt Mark Windsor.

"We have lost a valuable member of our team. We will continue to fight for the cause for which he made the ultimate sacrifice."

Last week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced a 300-strong increase in troop numbers planned for March, to take the total Afghan deployment to 8,300.

Earlier today, Defence Secretary John Hutton said further increases in UK troop numbers could not be ruled out.

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