Bomb Disposal Expert Dies in Afghanistan Explosion; Soldier Was Part of Patrol Clearing Improvised Explosive Devices

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Byline: Wesley Johnson

AN ARMY bomb disposal expert has died after an explosion while he was helping to clear IEDs in Afghanistan.

The soldier, from 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), Royal Engineers, died from the wounds he suffered in the blast near Patrol Base Blenheim, near Sangin, in Helmand Province, on Thursday afternoon. His family has been told.

It is understood the soldier was part of a patrol conducting controlled explosions to help reduce the threat from IEDs - improvised explosive devices - when the incident happened.

His death took the number of British service personnel who have died since the start of operations in Afghanistan in 2001 to 245, including 108 in 2009 - the bloodiest 12 months for British forces since the 1982 Falklands War.

The soldier was from the same regiment as Corporal Loren Marlton-Thomas, 28, who died after a roadside bomb exploded while he was clearing a route in Helmand Province on November 15.

Cpl Marlton-Thomas "epitomised the men of courage and nerve that he led", the Ministry of Defence said.

About three-quarters of the British deaths in Afghanistan last year were thought to have been caused by insurgent IEDs.

Lieutenant Colonel David Wakefield, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said: "He was part of the counter-IED task force, leading the fight against the improvised explosive device (IED) in Helmand. His sacrifice and his courage will not be forgotten."

IEDs strike suddenly and without warning, and British troops have been hit particularly hard because nearly all of them are based in Helmand, a Taliban stronghold and major centre of opium production which is the most dangerous province in the country. …