Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Troop bomb training 'inadequate'

(Clockwise from top left) Cpl Sarah Bryant, Cpl Sean Robert Reeve, L/Cpl Richard Larkin, Private Paul Stout
The four were killed in a Snatch Land Rover in 2008

The coroner at an inquest into the death of four British soldiers in a blast in Afghanistan has pointed to "inadequacies" in training.

In his summing-up, Wiltshire and Swindon coroner David Masters said there were issues with how soldiers were trained to deal with bombs.

Cpl Sarah Bryant and SAS reservists Cpl Sean Reeve, L/Cpl Richard Larkin and Pte Paul Stout died in 2008.

Cpl Bryant is the only British female soldier to have died in Afghanistan.

The four were killed in 2008 in a Snatch Land Rover, a light vehicle in which at least 37 UK soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Metal detectors

One witness had said they were not trained with metal detectors until four months into their deployment. Mr Masters said there was an "inadequacy of training", specifically in relation to the bombs.

Mr Masters repeated what witnesses had told the court, that shortages in other vehicles meant soldiers had to used the lightly protected Land Rover, which was not adequate for the purpose.

The soldiers died after the back wheel of their Land Rover hit a 50kg to 100kg (110lb-220lb) pressure-plated roadside bomb as they crossed a ditch.

The deaths, in particular that of Cpl Bryant - a young, recently married member of the Intelligence Corps - attracted much media attention at the time.

The incident also attracted a lot of criticism, with one SAS major resigning his commission in protest.

Concerns about the Snatch Land Rover were raised as long ago as 2003.

The lightly armoured vehicle's vulnerability to roadside bombs and other explosives has led some soldiers to call it the "mobile coffin".

The Ministry of Defence is upgrading the Snatch with improvements to its armour and better electronic counter-measures to detect roadside bombs. But that work has yet to be completed.



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