Asia Crisis

British soldier killed in Afghanistan

A British soldier takes cover from the dust swirled by a Chinook helicopter in Musa Qala in this December 15, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Rafiq Maqbool/Pool

LONDON (Reuters) - A British soldier was killed in a firefight with Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday.

The soldier, from the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, was on a routine patrol in Helmand province when his unit was attacked on Tuesday. He was hit in an explosion and died later of his injuries, the ministry said.

The death raises the number of British soldiers to have died in Afghanistan to 114 since Britain’s forces joined U.S. troops in invading the country in late 2001.

Fighting has intensified in southern Afghanistan in recent months, with the Taliban stepping up roadside bomb attacks and ambushes. Twenty-eight British troops have been killed so far this year.

The majority of Britain’s 8,100 troops are based in Helmand, a vast desert province that is the heartland of Taliban support.

Reporting by Luke Baker; Editing by Mary Gabriel