British Soldier Missing In Helmand

British Solider Missing in Helmand: Family Informed

The military is investigating the death of a British soldier who was found dead with gunshot wounds after going missing from his checkpoint in southern Afghanistan.

The incident overshadowed an unannounced visit to the country by Prime Minister David Cameron who was said to be "deeply saddened".

The soldier, from The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, was found after a massive manhunt. His family has been informed and he is expected to be named on Tuesday.

He had been reported missing from a military checkpoint in the early hours of the morning, and Taliban groups have claimed responsibility for killing him.

Nato spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Tim Purbrick said: "He had suffered gunshot wounds. His exact cause of death is still to be established and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance and death are currently under investigation.

"It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

Downing Street sources said the Prime Minister was "deeply saddened" by news that the soldier had become the British armed forces' 375th fatality during the decade-long campaign. The disappearance forced Mr Cameron to abandon part of an unannounced visit to the country so resources could be deployed to the search.

Before the death was confirmed, the premier admitted the incident was "disturbing", but he said the "big picture" in Afghanistan showed cause for optimism, and the country was moving into a "new phase".

He also reiterated that there would be no movement in the 2015 deadline for the UK's combat role to end.

The coalition Government has been coming under pressure to follow the example of US president Barack Obama, who announced last month that 10,000 troops deployed as part of the so-called 'surge' strategy will be coming home by the end of this year, and another 23,000 next.


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