Page last updated at 18:33 GMT, Friday, 2 April 2010 19:33 UK

UK soldier killed by blast is named by the MoD

Guardsman Michael Sweeney (Copyright: MoD)
Guardsman Sweeney's family said they were "immensely proud" of him

A British soldier killed in a bomb blast while on foot patrol in Afghanistan has been named by the Ministry of Defence.

Guardsman Michael Sweeney, 19, of 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, was killed in the Babaji district of central Helmand province on Thursday morning.

The soldier had been on patrol near the newly built Walizi base.

His death means 279 British military personnel have now been killed on operations in Afghanistan since 2001.

Guardsman Sweeney, from Blyth in Northumberland, leaves behind his parents, brother and fiancee.

The soldier's family said they were "devastated" by their loss and "immensely proud of what Michael has achieved in such a short lifetime".

In a statement, they said: "Michael loved to spend time with family and friends which meant so much to him and he was extremely giving to all. He touched so many people's hearts and he will be greatly missed."

For a young man with a relatively short Army career behind him, he achieved an impressive amount
Bob Ainsworth
Defence secretary

His commanding officer, Lt Col Toby Gray, said Guardsman Sweeney was an "outstanding soldier" and "simply a super bloke".

He went on: "Michael Sweeney was selfless amongst his friends, dedicated to his duty and utterly professional at all times.

"His self-effacing humour and generous nature were the hallmarks of his service in the regiment and values by which he lived his life. He improved the lives of all he met.

"His tragic and untimely death has robbed us of one of the brightest young guardsmen in the regiment."

And Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said he was impressed by the soldier's achievements.

"The loss of a soldier, by all accounts so capable, motivated and thoroughly likeable as Guardsman Michael Sweeney, came as extremely sad news to me," said the defence secretary.

"For a young man with a relatively short Army career behind him, he achieved an impressive amount," he added.

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