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Insurgents kill British soldier in southern Afghanistan

KABUL/LONDON (BNO NEWS) -- A British soldier was killed on Thursday when a group of insurgents attacked his patrol in southern Afghanistan, Britain's Ministry of Defense confirmed on Friday.

The attack happened in the Nahr-e Saraj District of Helmand province when a NATO-led patrol came under attack from insurgents. "Sadly, during the attack, the soldier sustained a fatal gunshot wound," Britain's Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

The identity of the soldier was not immediately released, but the Ministry identified him as a service member from the 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment. His family has been informed.

"The death of this brave soldier is a tragedy which has affected us all," said Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Mackenzie, a spokesman for Task Force Helmand. "His loss will be deeply felt by his family, friends and loved ones, and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very difficult time."

Coalition casualties in Afghanistan have been rising sharply in recent years with a total coalition death toll of 709 in 2010, making it the deadliest year for international troops since the war began in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

There are currently more than 130,000 ISAF troops in Afghanistan, including some 90,000 U.S. troops and more than 9,500 British soldiers. U.S. President Barack Obama previously ordered a drawdown of 10,000 American troops later this year, with another 23,000 U.S. troops to return home next year.

So far this year, at least 512 coalition service members have been killed in Afghanistan. Most troops are American and are killed in the country's south, which is plagued by IED attacks on troops and civilians. The deadliest incident happened in August when a U.S. helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan, killing 30 U.S. troops, seven Afghan troops and an Afghan interpreter.

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