LONDON (AFP) — A soldier has been killed in an explosion in southern Afghanistan while on the "Panther's Claw" offensive against Taliban rebels, the Ministry of Defence here said Wednesday.
"It is with great sadness that the MoD must confirm that a soldier from The Light Dragoons has been killed in an explosion," the ministry said in a statement.
"The incident took place whilst on Operation Panchai Palang (Panther's Claw) near Gereshk, Helmand Province, on the evening of July 7."
The death brings to 176 the total number of British service personnel killed in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001, when US-led forces ousted the Taliban in the wake of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.
"This soldier gave his life for the security of his own country and the freedom of the Afghan people; there is no greater sacrifice than this," said Task Force Helmand spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Nick Richardson.
"Our deepest and heartfelt sympathies go to his family and loved ones."
The serviceman's next of kin have been informed.
Britain has around 8,300 troops in Afghanistan, largely battling Taliban insurgents in Helmand.
Panther's Claw is a major airborne assault launched two weeks ago against a Taliban stronghold near Gereshk, in central Helmand.
Among the British soldiers killed so far in the assault was the the first commanding officer to die in operations since 1991: Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, commanding officer of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards.
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