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Five Wiltshire-based soldiers believed killed in Afghanistan
Five soldiers from 3 Yorks are believed to have been killed in an explosion yesterday in southern Afghanistan just weeks after their arrival.
Along with another soldier from 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, the five were on patrol in Helmand Province in a Warrior armoured fighting vehicle when it was hit by an explosion.
The five were part of Corunna Company, which deployed last month to provide armoured vehicles to the task force.
The remainder of the regiment, based at Battlesbury Barracks in Warminster, will depart next month.
If the deaths are confirmed, it would be the biggest loss of life in a single incident since 14 service personnel were killed in a Nimrod crash in 2006.
Details are still being confirmed and further information will be released by the MOD in due course. The families of the soldiers have been informed.
Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond said:"This tragic incident brings home to us the dangers that are faced on a daily basis by the men and women of our Armed Forces deployed in Afghanistan.
“My thoughts are with the families and friends of the six soldiers who are missing, believed killed, and also with their colleagues, both in Afghanistan and the UK, whose brave work continues or is about to start.
"I utterly condemn those responsible for this incident who will ultimately fail to derail a mission that is protecting our national security at home and making real progress in Helmand province - a testament to the bravery, commitment and professionalism of our Armed Forces.”
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.
"This campaign has seen many personal tragedies and we owe it to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to recognise that their courage and skill is visible in the ever more capable Afghan Army and Police.
"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.
"The support shown by the public towards our men and women continues to be a source of great strength for the Armed Forces.
“They feel strongly that they are protecting us all through their service in Afghanistan."
South West Wiltshire MP Andrew Murrison, speaking from St Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons Belgium, said: "I am devastated by this news and know that the thoughts and prayers of Warminster people will be with the families at this difficult time."