Afghan conflict claims three more British lives


Bodies of Nimrod crash victims to be flown home. Three more British soldiers died on a bloody day for coalition forces in Afghanistan yesterday. Twelve others were injured in a series of incidents including engagements with insurgents and a landmine explosion.


(07.09.2006)

The fatalities take the total number of British forces killed in the country since operations began in 2001 to 40.

One British soldier was killed and five others were described by the Ministry of Defence as "very seriously" injured with one less seriously wounded in a blast in northern Helmand Province.

Nato said troops had unwittingly strayed into an unmarked minefield.

Just over four hours earlier another British soldier died in action against insurgents.

Four others were injured, including one seriously.

Elsewhere two others were injured in a second engagement with insurgents in Helmand.

"One UK soldier was very seriously wounded and one other received serious injuries," the MoD said in a statement.

The third death followed an attack on Friday in which 27-year-old Fijian Ranger Anare Draiva of the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment was killed.

Yesterday another soldier from the same battalion died from injuries suffered in that attack.

Members of his family were with him when he died.

It is understood that the soldier, who has not been named, had been flown out of Afghanistan for treatment and his relatives had joined him.

Meanwhile, the bodies of 14 British servicemen killed in a Nimrod crash in Afghanistan are being flown back to the crew's home base rather than the UK's usual military arrival point, defence chiefs said yesterday.

Normally when British military personnel are killed abroad they are brought back to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

But the Ministry of Defence said all the victims of Saturday's disaster would be repatriated to RAF Kinloss in Moray on September 12.

Twelve of the men who died were stationed at the base, prompting commanders to declare a day of official mourning earlier this week.

A Royal Marine and an army soldier aboard the plane also died.

The MoD said the decision to fly the crew back to Kinloss had been made following discussions between the Defence Secretary and chiefs of staff, and recognised the crew's close ties with the area.

Not only were most of the crew based at Kinloss, the ministry said, but the area was home to large numbers of people who knew and worked with the men as well as their next of kin.

Kinloss's station commander Group Captain Chris Birks said the bodies were due to arrive at midday on Tuesday.

He added: "This will be an extremely important occasion both for the families and for the station, and will help us all come to terms with the loss which we all feel so deeply."

Early indications suggest the Nimrod MR2, which was on a Nato surveillance mission, crashed near Kandahar after developing a technical fault.

Before the announcement, Kinloss's local MP had called on the MoD to fly the dead servicemen back to Scotland rather than Brize Norton.

Scottish National Party Moray MP Angus Robertson said it was essential the bodies were repatriated to RAF Kinloss to avoid a current backlog which has built up in the office of the Oxfordshire coroner.

Mr Robertson also said he had been lobbied by some of the families on the issue.

Their arrival will be met with full military honours as well as by families, senior officers and government representatives.

The bodies will then be handed over to officials for formal identification and the start of the inquests into their deaths before eventually being released to families.

Yesterday saw the resumption of Nimrod flights from Kinloss for the first time since the crash. They were grounded when routine faults were found on the Nimrod fleet during checks.

Von: 07 September 2006, Yorkshire Post Today

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