Scots soldier 'killed by 20-year-old Soviet mine' in Afghanistan

Share this article

A SOLDIER serving with the Royal Regiment of Scotland has been killed by a landmine believed to be left over from the Soviet occupation.

The unnamed soldier from B Company 5th Battalion, was on patrol in the Lashkar Gar region when he stepped on a "legacy" anti-personnel mine on Saturday morning.

The Soviets left Afghanistan in 1988 after a disastrous occupation, dubbed their Vietnam.

The soldier died instantly, bringing the death toll of UK forces in Afghanistan to 110. Next of kin have been informed and he is set to be named today.

On Friday, 32-year old Warrant Officer Dan Shirley, from 13 Air Assault Support Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, died when the vehicle in which he was patrolling rolled over.

The death of the latest soldier, from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, marks a devastating month. With 13 killed, June has the second highest death toll for British forces since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001.

The soldier had been part of a vehicle checkpoint patrol when he received a report of a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attack on a civilian aircraft at an airfield in Lashkar Gar, the capital of the volatile Helmand province.

An MoD spokesman said: " They dismounted their vehicles and that is when what is believed to have been a legacy anti-personnel mine detonated, killing the soldier instantly."

Meanwhile, concerns have been raised about whether some of the vehicles used by soldiers in Afghanistan are robust enough to survive an increasing number of attacks against British forces.

Defence chiefs are said to have ordered a review of the "Snatch" Land Rovers, designed originally for duties in Northern Ireland. A total of 30 soldiers have died in the vehicles in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, said

: "This is a deeply dangerous and difficult task our people are involved in, in Southern Afghanistan."

Speaking to Sky News, he added: "The fact of the matter is that these young people are helping to secure our way of life against the attacks of the Taleban and al-Qaeda. They are doing what needs to be done.

"Neither of these two incidents over the last few days involved direct contact with the enemy. It may well turn out for example that this was a legacy mine from the Soviet time but it doesn't alter the fact it's a dangerous, dangerous environment."

June's death toll of 13 is the worst loss of life for British troops since September 2006 when 19 servicemen died, 14 of them in an incident when a Nimrod MR2 aircraft crashed.

This month also saw the death of the first British servicewoman in Afghanistan. Corporal Sarah Bryant, 26, from Cumbria, died on 17 June when the Land Rover in which she was travelling hit a mine east of Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province.

Three SAS reservists travelling with her were also killed.

The bloodshed started on 8 June when Private Nathan Cuthbertson, Private Daniel Gamble and Private Charles David Murray – all from 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment – were killed by a suicide bomber during a routine foot patrol in the Upper Sangin Valley.

On 12 June, the death toll rose to five when Lance Corporal James Bateman and Private Jeff Doherty, from 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, were killed by enemy fire on a routine foot patrol near their base in the Upper Gereshk Valley.

The deaths of Cpl Bryant, Corporal Sean Robert Reeve, Lance Corporal Richard Larkin and Paul Stout followed on 17 June.

On 24 June, Sergeant Major Michael Williams, of 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, was killed during a firefight, and Private Joe Whittaker, of 4th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, was killed in an explosion while checking for landmines.