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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 January, 2004, 16:09 GMT
Part-time soldier dies in bombing
Private Jonathan Kitulagoda
Private Jonathan Kitulagoda was 23
The British soldier killed in a suspected suicide attack in Afghanistan was a 23-year-old member of a Territorial Army battalion from Devon.

Private Jonathan Kitulagoda, a graduate from the University of Plymouth, was killed and four other British soldiers were injured in the attack near a military base in the Afghan capital Kabul, at about 0630 GMT on Wednesday.

A member of the Rifle Volunteers, whose headquarters is at Wyvern Barracks, Exeter, Private Kitulagoda was serving in Kabul with the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

In a statement, the MoD confirmed that the attack which killed Private Kitulagoda, whose family live in Clifton, Bedfordshire, was an "apparent suicide bomb attack".

Scene of suspected suicide bombing in Kabul
Troops seal off the site of the suspected suicide bombing

Paying tribute to Private Kitulagoda on Thursday Lieutenant Colonel Ian Blewett, the commanding officer of The Rifle Volunteers, said he was a "popular and committed member of E (Devon and Dorset) Company".

He said: "My thoughts, and those of the entire battalion, are very much with Private Kitulagoda's family, and the families of those injured, at this dreadful time.

"Jonathan Kitulagoda was a young man of 23 who played a full and professional role as a Territorial Army infantryman."

Private Kitulagoda graduated from the University of Plymouth in June 2003 with a BSc in Marine Navigation. He was a member of the TA while studying at Plymouth.

In tribute, his course tutor, Captain John Hooper, said: "The news of Jonathon's death whilst on active service has deeply saddened all who knew him at the university.

"Having recently graduated with a well-deserved degree, he was about to reap the rewards of three years of hard work.

"Always a cheerful character and well liked by his fellow students, he will be sadly missed."

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said it had not yet confirmed if the suspected suicide bomber was a British passport-holder.

"We have heard the rumour that he was an Algerian-born British passport-holder, but that was from press reporting," she said.

The commander of British troops in the city said the attack, using at least 200lbs of explosives, looked carefully planned.

Colonel Mike Griffiths said there had been a single suicide bomber, travelling in a taxi with Kabul number plates.

Memorial ceremony

The British troops were in lightly protected Land Rovers, on a main road in the city's eastern suburbs.

As the lead driver overtook the taxi, it blew up.

Wednesday's bombing came about the same time as another suspected suicide attack just east of Kabul, near a German military base, which injured five people.

Both attacks happened during a memorial ceremony for a Canadian soldier who was killed in a suicide attack in Kabul on Tuesday.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack and alleged it would be the start of a campaign of suicide bombings across the country.

About 350 British troops are in Kabul as part of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).




SEE ALSO:
UK soldier dies in Afghan bombing
28 Jan 04  |  South Asia


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