UK and Afghan officials say troop convoy was targeted by suicide car bomber in Helmand
A British soldier was killed and five others injured by a suicide car bomber who rammed a Toyota Corolla packed with explosives into a troop convoy in Helmand province on Tuesday, British and Afghan officials have said.
Three Afghan civil order police were also injured in the attack, a spokesman for the Helmand police chief said. The Ministry of Defence and Nato do not comment on injuries to surviving troops.
The soldier who died was from the 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment, Staffords. His family have been informed and asked for a period of grace before further details are released.
“A hugely experienced soldier has tragically died while serving with his comrades in Afghanistan,” said Lieutenant Colonel Hywel Lewis, spokesman for Task Force Helmand. “Those who served alongside him were privileged to operate with a highly professional soldier who led by example.”
The bomber attacked in the morning on a major highway, around 25 miles north-east of the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, a spokesman for the Afghan army in Helmand said.
“Yesterday around 11 o’clock a car bomb targeted a [Nato] convoy in Gereshk district on a big public road,” said the spokesman, Mohmammad Rasoul Zazai. “There were no civilian casualties.”
The soldier was the eighth from Britain killed in Afghanistan this year and the 446th to die in the country since the 2001 invasion. In 2012 44 UK soldiers were killed in Afghanistan.
The toll of the Afghan war on British soldiers has fallen as troops have pulled out of many areas of Helmand, turning their outposts over to Afghan soldiers and police and focusing on training of local forces.
The number of British forces in Afghanistan was cut to 9,000 at the end of 2013 and by the end of 2013 will be down to just over 5,000. Those remaining advise Afghans on fighting the Taliban but seldom join the fighting or go on patrol themselves.
All combat troops are due to leave the country in 2014, leaving behind a small team of mentors to staff an officer training academy.