Two Colchester soldiers killed

TWO Colchester-based soldiers have been killed in fighting in Afghanistan after their base came under attack. The soldiers, from 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, died in the town of Sangin, in the Helmand province in the south of the country on Saturday .

TWO Colchester-based soldiers have been killed in fighting in Afghanistan after their base came under attack.

The soldiers, from 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, died in the town of Sangin, in the Helmand province in the south of the country on Saturday .

Five British troops have now been killed in the region in the past three weeks as forces gather at the start of a three-year reconstruction mission.

The MoD said fighting broke out after a British base was attacked by fighters with light weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.


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The deadly confrontation marked a new low for forces battling to bring stability to what is seen as one of the most lawless parts of the Central Asian nation.

An MoD spokesman said: “It is with deep regret that we can confirm that two British soldiers from the 3rd Para Battlegroup have been killed in action. Their next of kin are being informed.”

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The troops from 3rd Para are part of the Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade, based at Hyderabad Barracks in Mersea Road and were deployed in early May this year.

There deaths come only days after two soldiers, believed to be special forces, were killed in Sangin after a patrol were caught in a gun battle with Taliban militia.

Another serviceman was also seriously injured after a British Army vehicle was destroyed by a rocket-propelled grenade and fighting broke out.

Captain Jim Philippson, 29, of Colchester-based 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, died in a firefight with rebels on June 11.

Defence secretary Des Browne said last night: “My thoughts are with the family and friends of those killed in the attack against UK troops in Afghanistan.

"Our troops are in Afghanistan to help the Afghans rebuild their country. That means facing down the Taliban who will go to any lengths to oppose progress.

"In doing this job we lost two of our troops yesterday and I am greatly saddened by this.”

The Sangin valley, in the north of Helmand province, has been the focus of British military activity in recent weeks.

Some 3,300 soldiers have now been deployed to Helmand as part of Nato's International Security Assistance Force. Their aim is to help the Afghanistan Government stamp its authority on the region which is seen as a Taliban stronghold.

Helmand is a notorious drug poppy-growing area and soldiers are not just battling militants but drug dealers and smugglers.

It has seen fighting between coalition soldiers and insurgents who cross the isolated and unguarded border from Pakistan.

The most senior British Army officer in Afghanistan warned last night that the two soldiers killed in fighting there will probably not be the last.

Brigadier Ed Butler, commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, said there will be further casualties as soldiers struggle to impose order on the lawless south of the country.

Speaking in Afghanistan, Brigadier Butler said British forces were determined to press on despite resistance from those who violently oppose change.

He said: “Any casualties are hugely regrettable and we feel for those families and relatives of those soldiers.

“Like the start of any operation, one anticipates casualties and we are prepared that there will be unfortunately more casualties as we win the campaign against those who oppose security, oppose the government of Afghanistan and those who don't want this to be a better place to live.”

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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