Six Uk Soldiers Missing In Afghanistan

 KABUL: Six UK soldiers are missing, believed killed, in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has said.

Five from the 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment and one from the 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster‘s Regiment were on patrol on Tuesday when their vehicle was hit by an explosion.

The soldiers’ families have been told.

If confirmed, it would be the biggest single loss of UK life in one incident in Afghanistan since a Nimrod crash killed 14 service personnel in 2006.

And it would take the toll on the British military since 2001 to 404.

Prime Minister David Cameron said it was a “desperately sad day for our country”.

Lt Col Gordon Mackenzie, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said: “I have the tragic duty to report that six soldiers are missing, believed killed, during a security patrol.

“The six soldiers… were on patrol in a Warrior armoured fighting vehicle when it was caught in an explosion in the task force Helmand area of operations.”

It is understood the vehicle has not been recovered yet which is why the Ministry of Defence has described the soldiers as “missing, believed killed”.

The last British soldier to be killed in Afghanistan was Senior Aircraftman Ryan Tomlin, of 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment, who died from gunshot wounds in Helmand on 13 February.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: “This tragic incident brings home to us the dangers that are faced on a daily basis by the men and women of our armed forces deployed in Afghanistan.”I utterly condemn those responsible for this incident, who will ultimately fail to derail a mission that is protecting our national security at home and making real progress in Helmand province – a testament to the bravery, commitment and professionalism of our armed forces.”

He added that the armed forces’ continuing efforts, together with the Afghan National Security Forces, meant “we are on course to build an Afghanistan that can stand on its own two feet when UK combat operations cease at the end of 2014 and never again becomes a haven for international terrorism”.

Chief of Defence Staff General Sir David Richards said he was “deeply saddened” by the news.

“This campaign has seen many personal tragedies and we owe it to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to recognise that their courage and skill is visible in the ever more capable Afghan Army and Police,” he added.

“Increasingly the Afghans themselves are taking the lead in providing security across Helmand. This transition is allowing Afghans to gain the confidence to reject the Taliban and live normal lives.

“The courage, fortitude and determination of those servicemen and women currently in Helmand is inspirational.

“They have not once wavered but, every day, mix the professionalism of which we are all so proud with deep commitment and determination.”

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said it was a “terrible tragedy which will bring profound loss to six families and real hurt to the whole country”.

“The professionalism of UK service personnel is unmatched and their bravery is unending,” he added

[BBC]

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