WO2 David Markland was killed in an IED blast
A British bomb disposal expert killed by an explosion in southern Afghanistan has been named as Warrant Officer Class 2 David Markland, a father-of-two.
WO2 Markland, from 36 Engineer Regiment, part of the Counter-IED Task Force, died after the blast in the Nad Ali district, Helmand, on Monday.
The 36-year-old, originally of Euxton, Lancs, had been leading a team clearing routes of improvised explosive devices.
A total of 256 British personnel have died in Afghanistan since 2001.
It means more British service personnel have now died in the conflict than were killed during the 1982 Falklands War.
WO2 Markland had been in the Army for 20 years and was on his eighth operational tour, having previously served in Bosnia and Iraq.
He leaves wife, Corallee, and their two sons, Keelen, 10, and Logan, seven.
WO2 Markland's death came ahead of a major Nato-led offensive against the Taliban in Nad-e-Ali, called Operation Moshtarak.
In a statement, his family said: "Dave was a wonderful husband, father, son and brother. His family and friends all loved and adored him.
"Keelen and Logan will always remember how funny and playful Dad was. He was proud to be in the British army just like his dad.
"We are very proud of Dave's achievements in his Army career. His soldiers, friends and officers all respected his selflessness and admired his style of leadership."
WO2 Markland, who deployed on his second tour of Afghanistan in October 2009, had been recently selected for the rare accolade of being made a Field Squadron Sergeant Major.
Senior officers have paid tribute to his dedication.
Lt Col Gareth Bex, commanding officer of the Counter-IED Task Force, said WO2 Markland had been a "talismanic figure".
He said: "Warrant Officer Class 2 Markland was adored by his team. They would have followed him to the ends of the Earth, such was the respect and trust he inspired.
"Afghanistan is the most taxing of threat environments and in his five months he had met some incredible challenges head on and never once faltered."
He added: "To say he was impressive doesn't do justice to the man. He had an inspiring effect on all those that he met, a talismanic figure whose mere presence instilled confidence and self-belief in everyone."
Major Tim Gould, officer commanding the Joint Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group, said WO2 Markland had been a "veritable guiding light" to all those he served with.
Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said he was "deeply saddened" to hear of his death and his thoughts were with his family.