Page last updated at 05:37 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 06:37 UK

UK soldier killed in Afghan blast

A British soldier in Helmand province
The UK currently has 9,000 service personnel in Afghanistan

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

Next of kin have been informed of the death, which happened on Wednesday during an attack in the Babaji District of Helmand province.

The soldier, from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, was operating with the Light Dragoons Battlegroup.

It takes the number of British service personnel killed in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001 to 211.

'Ultimate sacrifice'

The spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lt Col Nick Richardson, said: "Everyone... is deeply saddened by the death of this brave 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."

Brig Gen Eric Tremblay, from the International Security Assistance Force, added: "We are hurting for this loss and hope that the family and friends of this fine ISAF soldier will find comfort in knowing that he helped make the security situation better for the Afghan population.

"For his significant contribution and ultimate sacrifice, we will always honour his memory."

This summer has seen heavy losses for the British Army in Afghanistan, with 41 deaths in July and August.

Last week Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited some of the 9,000 UK service personnel in the country.

He announced that 200 soldiers who specialise in countering Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) would be deployed this autumn to join 200 sent early this year.

General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan, has said the situation is "serious", but success is achievable.

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