Newspaper journalist killed in Afghanistan
LONDON (Reuters) - A British journalist for The Sunday Mirror has been killed by a roadside bomb while on patrol in Afghanistan, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday.
Defence correspondent Rupert Hamer was accompanying a U.S. Marine patrol to the northwest of Nawa in Helmand province when the vehicle he was in struck an improvised explosive device, the ministry said.
A U.S. Marine was also killed in the explosion. Sunday Mirror photographer Philip Coburn was wounded and is in a stable but serious condition, it said.
Hamer was the first British journalist to be killed in Afghanistan since U.S.-led forces began their offensive against the Taliban in October 2001.
He is the second western journalist to die there in as many weeks, highlighting the perils facing reporters embedded with NATO troops. Canadian journalist Michelle Lang was killed on December 30, also by a bomb which struck her armoured vehicle.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown expressed his sorrow at Hamer's death and praised the professionalism of journalists embedded with NATO troops.
"I was deeply saddened by this tragic news, and my heartfelt thoughts and sympathies are with the families, friends and colleagues of Rupert and Philip," he said.
"Their courage, skill and dedication to reporting from the front line was incredibly important and ensured that the world could see and read about our heroic troops."
Hamer was an experienced war reporter who had covered conflicts in Iraq, the Middle East and central Asia. He leaves a wife and three children.
Last year was by far the deadliest year of the Afghan war for Western forces. Both the United States and Britain lost more than twice as many troops as in any previous year, the vast majority of them killed by roadside bombs.
NATO forces dealt with over 7,200 improvised explosive devices in 2009, up from 81 in 2001.
Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver played tribute to Hamer, who had worked for the paper for 12 years. "Rupert believed that the only place to report a war was from the front line," she said.
"Affectionately known as Corporal Hamer in the office, he was a gregarious figure, a wonderful friend who was hugely popular with his colleagues."
(Additional reporting by Peter Graff in Kabul; editing by Tim Pearce)
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