SANGIN, Afghanistan (Reuters) - A British NATO soldier was killed and four wounded at the weekend after a Taliban ambush near the southern Afghanistan town of Sangin, the British military said on Sunday.
The soldiers from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards were on patrol with Afghan troops when they were struck by a roadside bomb on Saturday, said Captain Alex Corbett-Burcher, an officer with British mentoring teams who work with Afghan troops.
“Following the explosion, the patrol came under sustained small arms and RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) fire from Taliban positions,” he said.
“The patrol fought off the Taliban until reinforcements arrived, allowing them to extract the casualties from the damaged (Land Rover) while under fire from the Taliban.”
The casualties were evacuated by helicopter to a British base where one was pronounced dead.
The dead soldier was later named by the Ministry of Defence as Guardsman Neil ‘Tony’ Downes, 20, from Manchester.
A Reuters reporting crew a few kilometres away in Sangin heard a blast and shooting at the time of the attack.
The town, in the heartland of southern Afghanistan’s opium trade, has been the focus of some of the fiercest battles of the war since British troops arrived a year ago.
But it has been relatively quiet since U.S. and British troops launched a series of assaults to clear Taliban guerrillas out of the area in the past two months.