Phuket Gazette: Bomb kills six British servicemen


– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Roadside bomb kills 6 British troops in southern Afghanistan

PHUKET (News Wires): Six British service members were killed on Tuesday when insurgents detonated a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan, Britain’s Ministry of Defense confirmed yesterday. It is the worst day for British troops in Afghanistan since 2006.

The attack happened at around 7pm local time when an improvised explosive device (IED) struck an armored vehicle in Helmand province, located in Afghanistan’s south. “The six soldiers [..] were on patrol in a Warrior Armored Fighting Vehicle when it was caught in an explosion in the Task Force Helmand Area of Operations,” said Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Mackenzie, a spokesman for British Forces there.

One of the soldiers was from the 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, while the five others were service members from the 3rd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment. “Details are still being confirmed and further information will be released in due course,” the ministry said in a statement. “The families of the soldiers have been informed.”

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Few other details about the incident were released, but Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack. “All invaders onboard [the tank] were incinerated in the powerful explosion, hence the British occupational officials initially said their invading soldiers were missing and later confirmed them dead,” he said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called it a ‘desperately sad day’ for Britain, especially for the families concerned. “It is a reminder of the huge price that we are paying for the work we are doing in Afghanistan and the sacrifice that our troops have made and continue to make,” he said.

British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond also offered his condolences. “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,” he said. “We should never forget those who have lost their lives in Afghanistan to protect our national security.”

The deaths raise the number of coalition troops killed in Afghanistan so far this year to 67, according to official figures. A total of 404 British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, and Tuesday’s attack represents the war’s worst single loss of British life in one incident due to enemy action.

The incident on Tuesday is also the biggest single loss of British life in Afghanistan since September 2006. In that incident, fourteen British service members were killed when a Nimrod MR2 aircraft crashed in the Panjwaye District of Kandahar province. It was Britain’s largest single loss of life since the Falklands War.

There are currently more than 130,000 ISAF troops in Afghanistan, including some 90,000 U.S. troops and more than 9,500 British soldiers. U.S. President Barack Obama previously ordered a drawdown of 23,000 U.S. troops later this year, and foreign combat troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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