300th British combat death in Afghanistan

A British soldier was killed on Friday in an explosion in Afghanistan - the 300th British troop killed by enemy action, the Ministry of Defence said.

Last Updated: Oct 09, 2010, 00:24 AM IST

London: A British soldier was killed on Friday
in an explosion in Afghanistan - the 300th British troop
killed by enemy action, the Ministry of Defence said.

The soldier, from 2nd Battalion The Duke of
Lancaster`s Regiment, was killed while on patrol in the Nahr-e
Saraj district of the restive southern Helmand Province.
A total of 340 British troops have now died in
Afghanistan since operations began in October 2001.

The dead soldier was on patrol "providing a reassuring
presence to the local population seeking to go about their
daily lives in peace when he was hit," Task Force Helmand
spokesman Lieutenant Colonel David Eastman said.

"He gave his life protecting the people of the United
Kingdom and Afghanistan -- no more could be asked of any man."

Britain has around 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, making
it the second largest contributor to the NATO-led
International Security Assistance Force.

They are based in Helmand, battling Taliban insurgents
and training local security forces.

This year is the second-worst for British troops in
Afghanistan, with 95 deaths so far. Some 108 troops died in
2009. The death toll has risen every year since 2003.

As the operation tried to shift from front-line
fighting towards training local Afghan forces, improvised
explosive devices and other threats meant the death toll did
not slow up.
But the death rate has dipped since British troops
handed over security responsibility in the flashpoint Helmand
town of Sangin to US forces last month.

Some 106 British troops died in the Sangin area. Prime
Minister David Cameron said in July that Britain could start
withdrawing forces from Afghanistan next year, with all troops
being out of a combat role by 2015.

Cameron`s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition
government, which took office in May, has made Afghanistan its
top foreign policy priority.

In the campaign, the first British soldier killed by
enemy action was reservist Private Jonathan Kitulagoda, 23, in
an apparent suicide bombing in Kabul on January 28, 2002.

PTI