Page last updated at 00:31 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009

Two soldiers die in Afghan blast

British soldiers in Afghanistan
A total of 152 British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001

Two British soldiers have been killed in an explosion in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The pair died in an all-terrain armoured Jackal vehicle in Garmsir district in southern Helmand on Sunday.

They were from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, serving with 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards. Next of kin have been informed.

On Saturday, L/Cpl Christopher Harkett, 22, became the 150th British serviceman to be killed in Afghanistan since 2001.

Commander Paula Rowe, spokeswoman for Task Force Helmand in Afghanistan, said: "The deaths of these two soldiers will be keenly felt by all in the Task Force and particularly by those who worked alongside them.

"Our deepest and heartfelt sympathies go to their families and loved ones and we offer our thoughts and prayers to them all at this most painful and distressing time."

'Spirit and character'

The Jackal squadron from 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards is involved in patrolling the "Snake's Head" area around the Helmand river.

L/Cpl Harkett, from Pontardawe, near Swansea, of The 2nd Battalion, Royal Welsh Regiment, was fatally injured in an explosion in Musa Qala, northern Helmand.

Maj Sid Welham, commanding officer of C Company, 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, said: "Lance Corporal Chris 'H' Harkett personified the spirit and character of The Royal Welsh."

L/Cpl Harkett was trained at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate and subsequently at Catterick before joining the battalion in March 2004 in Paderborn, Germany.

Defence Secretary John Hutton said: "It is clear that L/Cpl Christopher Harkett was a dedicated and enthusiastic soldier from a family with a strong military tradition."

In another incident, a roadside bomb attack in eastern Afghanistan killed four US soldiers on Sunday.

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