LONDON (Reuters) - British soldier killed by a roadside mine blast in southern Afghanistan on Sunday has been named as Corporal Darryl Gardiner of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
Gardiner, 25, died during an operation to disrupt enemy forces and reassure local Afghans near Musa Qala in Helmand Province, the Ministry of Defence said.
Five other soldiers were injured in the explosion and are now recovering.
The MoD said Gardiner, a keen skydiver known as “Daz”, was from Wiltshire and had been sent to Afghanistan in October.
“Corporal ‘Daz’ Gardiner was an exceptional young man and a man that the Brigade Recce Force will miss so much,” said Major Tony Phillips, Officer Commanding of Task Force Helmand’s Brigade Reconnaissance Force.
“His death has been a bitter blow to us all.”
He said Gardiner had proved himself under fire on a number of occasions.
“He epitomised the cool, calm and courageous modern soldier. He even enjoyed momentary fame when he was part of a small team that defeated a vehicle-borne suicide bomber in Gereshk in October 2007.”
He leaves behind a girlfriend, Lucy.
“We have lost a good friend, a courageous soldier and a remarkably skilled tradesman but we are only too aware that his family has lost so much more, it is they who are at the forefront of our minds,” Phillips said.
More than 760 foreign soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since U.S.-led and Afghan forces toppled the Taliban in 2001.
Last year was the most violent yet as resurgent Taliban attacks spread to relatively peaceful parts of the country and more suicide bombs hit the cities.
Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison