Page last updated at 22:28 GMT, Monday, 5 April 2010 23:28 UK

Soldier killed in Afghanistan blast named

Rifleman Mark Turner
Rifleman Mark Turner was clearing his comrades to safety when he was killed

A British soldier who died in an explosion while on foot patrol in southern Afghanistan has been named.

Rifleman Mark Turner, of 3rd Battalion The Rifles, was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in the Kajaki area of Helmand province on Sunday.

Rifleman Turner, 21, from Gateshead, was described as a "remarkable young man" by his comrades.

A total of 280 UK service personnel have been killed in Afghanistan since military operations started in 2001.

'Exemplary conduct'

Lt Col Nick Kitson, commanding officer of 3rd Battalion The Rifles, said: "Rifleman Mark Turner was a remarkable young man who took in his stride the toughest and most dangerous job available here in Afghanistan.

"Daily he took responsibility for the lives of his friends by putting himself out in front and clearing the ground of the deadly devices left by insurgents with nothing to call on but a metal detector and his own instincts.

He added: "His conduct and talents were nothing short of exemplary and he was blessed with a smile and a joke for every occasion.

"The kind of stoicism, humour and determination he showed on a daily basis is something of which our nation can be very proud.

"Rifleman Turner died doing a job he loved and for which he had a prolific talent."

Clearing comrades

Rifleman Turner joined the Army four years ago and was injured in a road accident during a previous tour of duty in Afghanistan from September 2006 to April 2007.

He leaves a fiancee, Liesha, mother Anne, stepfather Joe, brother Dave and three sisters Lisa, Joanne and Julie.

Rifleman Turner, who was a keen supporter of Newcastle United FC, was nicknamed Turtle by his comrades.

Platoon commander Lt Will Melia said Rifleman Turner had already found one explosive device on the day that he died and was clearing his colleagues to cover when he was killed.

Lt Melia said: "Rifleman Turner was exceptionally good at his job and every man in my platoon, myself included, is keenly aware that it is due to his hard work and dedication that we are still alive today."

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