Six soldiers missing, believed dead, in explosion

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SIX soldiers, including five from the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, are missing, believed killed after their armoured vehicle was caught in an explosion in southern Afghanistan yesterday.

The soldiers were on a mounted patrol in Helmand Province when their Warrior fighting vehicle was hit by the explosion.

No details of the soldiers have been released by the Ministry of Defence, though their families have been informed. Unconfirmed reports say that one of the soldiers is believed to be local.

If the deaths are confirmed it would be the biggest single loss of life in one incident since 14 people died in a Nimrod crash in 2006.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “This is a desperately sad day for our country and desperately sad of course for the families concerned.

“It is a reminder of the huge price that we are paying for the work we’re doing in Afghanistan, the sacrifice that our troops have made and continue to make. I do believe it’s important work for our national security, right here at home but of course this work we’re increasingly be carried out by Afghanistan soldiers and we all want to see that transition take place.”

Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, said: “I was deeply saddened by the news of this incident and that six soldiers are believed to have lost their lives doing what is a dangerous but important job.

“My thoughts and prayers at this difficult time are with the families of those affected by this tragic event.

“Increasingly the Afghans themselves are taking the lead in providing security across Helmand. This transition is allowing Afghans to gain the confidence to reject the Taliban and live normal lives.

“The courage, fortitude and determination of those servicemen and women currently in Helmand is inspirational.

“They have not once wavered but, every day, mix the professionalism of which we are all so proud with deep commitment and determination.”