Page last updated at 07:59 GMT, Monday, 20 July 2009 08:59 UK

UK soldier killed in Afghanistan

Uk soldiers fighting in Operation Panther's Claw
The UK death toll in Afghanistan now stands at 186

A UK soldier has been killed in a blast in Afghanistan, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence has said.

The soldier, who served with 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, died in Sangin, in northern Helmand province, on 19 July.

His next of kin have been notified, the MoD added in a statement.

The fatality takes the UK death toll in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001 to 186, including 17 during the month of July alone.

It comes after a row over the number of helicopters available to UK troops.

Better equipment

Lt Col Nick Richardson, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said he was announcing the death of the solider with "extreme sadness".

"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."

Many of the recent UK fatalities in Afghanistan have died taking part in Operation Panther's Claw, an assault against insurgents in Helmand ahead of elections.

Some 3,000 troops are involved in the operation, which began on 19 June, although the most recent casualty was not taking part in it.

The head of the Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, has called for better equipment to protect troops from roadside bombs in the country.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has repeatedly insisted the Army has enough equipment and denied claims of a helicopter shortage.

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