Page last updated at 05:42 GMT, Sunday, 9 August 2009 06:42 UK

UK soldier killed in Afghanistan

UK soldier in Afghanistan
An officer said the soldiers died "working to make Afghanistan a better place"

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

The soldier, from 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, had been on patrol east of Gereshk in Helmand province.

Lt Col Mark Wenham, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said the soldier made the "ultimate sacrifice" and displayed "bravery that was second to none".

The fatality on Saturday takes the UK death toll in Afghanistan since 2001 to 196. Next of kin have been informed.

'Heartfelt condolences'

According to the MoD, the soldier had been on foot patrol when an improvised explosive device went off.

Lt Col Wenham said: "Today we mourn the loss of a soldier who died working to make Afghanistan a better place.

"Our thoughts are with his family and we offer them our deepest and heartfelt condolences at this tragic time."

Pte Kyle Adams, Cpl Kevin Mulligan and L/Cpl Dale Thomas Hopkins
Pte Kyle Adams, Cpl Kevin Mulligan and L/Cpl Dale Thomas Hopkins

Five UK soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan so far in August, following a record death toll of 22 in July.

Troops are now involved in the second stage of Operation Panther's Claw, which the MoD says is focused on holding ground won from the Taliban in recent weeks.

The latest fatality comes two days after three Paras were killed in southern Afghanistan.

Cpl Kevin Mulligan, 26, L/Cpl Dale Hopkins, 23, and Pte Kyle Adams, 21, were on patrol when their vehicle was struck by an explosion and came under fire.

Meanwhile, the ex-commander of the British forces in Afghanistan has attacked the MoD for leaving heavily-armoured vehicles "parked up doing nothing" at a base in the UK.

Col Richard Kemp said pictures in the News of the World of a large number of vehicles at a base in Gloucestershire were "extraordinary".

But the MoD insisted that the vehicles at the Defence Storage and Distribution Agency site were to be fitted with armour, radios and undergo testing.

The incoming head of the Army, Gen Sir David Richards, has warned that the UK's commitment to Afghanistan could last for up to 40 years.

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