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Page last updated at 21:05 GMT, Monday, 7 December 2009

UK soldier becomes 100th to die in Afghanistan in 2009

PM: 'Best tribute is to continue work we started to ensure safety of our country'

A British soldier has been shot dead in Afghanistan, taking the total number killed there this year to 100.

The soldier of 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment died after an incident in central Helmand Province in the afternoon. Next of kin have been told.

The total number of UK troops killed since the start of operations in Afghanistan in October 2001 has now reached 237.

Gordon Brown said every death was "a real and personal tragedy".

"My thoughts, and the entire nation's, are with the families and friends of every one of those brave men who have died this year; indeed, with every one of our service personnel who have lost their lives serving our country in Afghanistan since 2001."

Our people face a difficult and dangerous task in Afghanistan, and 2009 has been a particularly challenging year
Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup

Conservative leader David Cameron, who has just returned from visiting troops in Helmand, said the death marked a "sad milestone" and was "a stark reminder of the daily threat our troops face".

The vast majority of British casualties have come from improvised explosive devices, the Taliban's weapon of choice.

Over the summer, Operation Panther's Claw claimed 10 lives as British forces drove insurgents out of key territory in Helmand ahead of the Afghan presidential election.

The prime minister has recently announced that 500 more troops will be going to Afghanistan, taking the total UK deployment to more than 10,000.

Most recent UK fatalities

Total deaths 2011: 32

Updated: Dec 18 2011

US President Barack Obama announced he would be sending 30,000 extra US troops but stressed America would begin to withdraw its military by 2011.

British troops arrived in Afghanistan in 2001 as part of a US-led invasion following the 9/11 attacks.

The majority of foreign troops in Afghanistan are under the command of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).

More than 40 countries are part of Isaf, which has a combined strength of about 71,000 troops. The US is by far the largest contributor, followed by the UK. Other major contributors include Germany, France and Canada.

The US has lost 931 military personnel, including 302 this year, while the death toll for other countries is 367.

'Hardened our determination'

Chief of the Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup said every death was "a sad loss".

"Our people face a difficult and dangerous task in Afghanistan, and 2009 has been a particularly challenging year," he said.

AFGHAN WAR DEATH TOLLS 2009
US: 302
UK: 100
Canada: 27
France: 11
Italy: 9
Others: 49
Afghan forces: More than 680 believed killed or missing

Source: iCasualties.org; various

"We remember those who have given their lives, the bereaved families and friends who are left behind, and all those who have been injured."

He said the armed forces were "making a real difference, and are building the basis for enduring success in Afghanistan".

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said the UK presence in Afghanistan was "vital".

"In taking the fight to the insurgents, providing security and hope for the Afghan people and building up their own security forces in ever greater numbers, we will create a stable country that will be able to stand on its own two feet."

The fiancee of a serviceman killed in Afghanistan tells of her loss

Head of the British army, Gen Sir David Richards, said the milestone death had hardened "our determination to succeed".

"There are real grounds for optimism. We have made substantial progress in Helmand and throughout Afghanistan," he said.

"Political resolve is firm; the necessary resources and manpower will be flowing into Afghanistan to allow us to do the job."

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said the Helmand town of Garmsir is being held up as a model of success with a functioning government and some level of security thanks to the efforts of British forces.

But more lives are likely to be lost before the troops are in a position to hand over security to local security forces and police, he said.

The 100th British soldier to die this year was shot in the Nad-e Ali area in the afternoon. He has not yet been named.

Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lt Col David Wakefield, said: "It is with great sadness I must confirm that a soldier from the 1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment was shot and killed in Helmand province this afternoon.

"He was one of us, one of our fellow soldiers, and we will remember him."

A total of 11 servicemen from the 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment have died in Afghanistan since the start of operations.

KEY COALITION GAINS IN HELMAND
Helmand showing key British strongholds
Lashkar Gah: Capital of Helmand, home to main British command and Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) made up of British civilian and military personnel. International organisations and PRT have funded new schools, roads and parks. Population: 200,000.
Garmsir: Secured by US marines and British troops after heavy fighting in 2008. Prince Harry served here. Cited as a success story by Ministry of Defence, with flourishing bazaar, school, own police force and Afghan army working with US marines to keep Taliban at bay. Population: 100,000.
Sangin: Centre for opium trade and historically sympathetic to Taliban. Taken by Nato-led International Security Assistance Force troops in 2007. MoD says town is safer now thanks to British and Afghan military presence and new checkpoints. Population: 30,000.
Musa Qala: Occupied by British forces since bloody battle in December 2007. Still attracts Taliban attacks. Population: 20,000.
Gereshk: Major British base, regarded by the MoD as "one of the most stable areas in Helmand" - but 30 British soldiers killed in the area in the past three years.
Babaji and Nad Ali: Although no longer controlled by Taliban, coalition forces still fighting to keep area secure.
Kajaki: Scene of heavy fighting from February 2007 to September 2008, when British secured strategic dam, now being rebuilt.




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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Times Online Gordon Brown did not understand Afghan war, says former Army chief - 5 hrs ago
ITN Ainsworth: Afghan war 'vital for the UK' - 5 hrs ago
The Independent Government 'making progress' on Afghanistan troops - 5 hrs ago
Sky News UK Army 'Resolute' After 100th Soldier Death - 7 hrs ago
New Statesman100th British soldier killed in Afghanistan this year - 8 hrs ago
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