UK & World News

  • 8 January 2013, 20:14

British Soldier Shot Dead In Afghanistan

A British soldier has been shot dead by a man wearing an Afghan army uniform, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

The soldier from 28 Engineer Regiment, attached to 21 Engineer Regiment, was killed at Patrol Base Hazrat in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province on Monday evening.

Major Martyn Crighton, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), told Sky News the soldier died after "an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform turned his weapon against both Afghan National Army soldiers and Isaf troops".

He added: "During the engagement the attacker was killed and there were some other folks who were wounded. They were subsequently taken to an Isaf medical facility to be treated."

The soldier's family have been informed of the death.

Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Major Laurence Roche, said: "This is an extremely sad day for the Corps of Royal Engineers and everyone serving with Task Force Helmand. Our thoughts are with the soldier's family and friends at this time."

The Taliban said it carried out the attack, naming the killer as Mohammed Qasim Faroq.

Spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said in an email that "an infiltrator" staged the attack and managed to escape from the scene but was later shot and killed after opening fire on a checkpoint.

The Taliban often claims such attacks, but Isaf officials say most stem from personal grudges and cultural misunderstandings.

More than 60 personnel with Isaf, which is led by Nato, were killed in 47 attacks by members of the Afghan security forces last year, eroding trust between Afghan soldiers and their foreign counterparts.

A total of 439 British servicemen and women have died in Afghanistan since 2001.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "These are clearly very, very serious incidents.

"The military always keep force protection measures under review."

The international force is currently planning to withdraw most of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The patrol base where the latest attack happened was due to be handed over to Afghan control soon.

Afghan forces already take the lead on security for 87% of the population ahead of the withdrawal.

The killing came as US President Barack Obama prepared to host his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai on Friday to discuss long-term US military and civilian support for Afghanistan.

Insider attacks are likely to be high on the agenda, as is the issue of a continued US military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

Reports citing the US Defence Department suggest between 3,000 and 9,000 troops could remain to focus on preventing al Qaeda from regaining a foothold.

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