Soldier killed in Afghanistan blast named

A British soldier killed in an explosion in southern Afghanistan was named by the Ministry of Defence today as Major Alexis Roberts, serving with 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles.

A British soldier killed in an explosion in southern Afghanistan was named by the Ministry of Defence today as Major Alexis Roberts, serving with 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles.

Maj Roberts, usually an Officer of 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, died as a result of an improvised explosive device on Thursday.

The soldier and two others were on their way back to Kandahar Airfield base when the blast hit their vehicle.

Reports said the dead man, a major, mentored Prince William during his time training at Sandhurst military academy.

He was specially selected to work as the Prince’s platoon commander before being posted to Afghanistan, The Sun said.

The Gurkhas had been taking part in an operation in neighbouring Helmand Province, the first major push since the unit’s arrival in the country as part of the army’s autumn troop rotation.

The blast happened about 19 miles west of the base in Kandahar Province.

All three were airlifted to Camp Bastion, Britain’s main base in Afghanistan, where one was pronounced dead. The other two were receiving treatment.

The latest casualties take the number of British forces personnel to be killed in Afghanistan since the start of operations there in 2001 to 82.

Maj Roberts is also the first UK soldier to be killed in the country since September 20.

His battalion had been taking part in Operation Palk Wahel – meaning “hammer blow” – a 2,500-strong push into a section of the notorious “Green Zone” in Helmand’s Upper Gereshk Valley.

The battalion is usually based in Serai in Brunei.

Prince William today said he was ``deeply saddened'' at the death in southern Afghanistan of Major Alexis Roberts, his platoon commander at Sandhurst, whom he described as ``a good friend''.

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