Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 12:50 UK

Soldier dies in Afghan explosion

A marine in a Viking in Afghanistan
The latest death brings the number of UK fatalities in Afghanistan to 163

A British soldier has been killed in an explosion in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The serviceman from the 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment was on an operation near Garmsir in Helmand Province. Next of kin have been told.

Task Force Helmand spokesman Lt Col Nick Richardson said it was an "incredibly sad day" for the force.

The death came hours after a Royal Marine died in a UK hospital from wounds sustained in Afghanistan.

The marine, from the Royal Marine Armoured Support Group, died at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, the Ministry of Defence said.

He was injured when a blast hit his Viking vehicle near Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province, on 22 May.

The marine, understood to be from north Wales, was treated at the scene before returning to the UK for specialist care. His family has been informed.

Col Richardson said: "It is with extreme sadness that I must report the death of a brave marine.

"He laid down his life for his country and the good people of Afghanistan. We grieve for his loss and join with his family and friends to mourn his passing."

The death brings the number of British service personnel who have died in Afghanistan since the start of operations in October 2001 to 163.

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