100th British soldier to die in Afghanistan this year (Lead)December 8th, 2009 - 5:06 pm ICT by IANS
London, Dec 8 (IANS) The head of the British army has urged people not to judge the Afghan campaign “by casualties alone” after the death of the 100th British soldier in the conflict this year.
“For those of us in the Army, whilst we grieve for a fallen comrade, his loss hardens our determination to succeed,” Chief of the General Staff, Gen Sir David Richards said after the soldier was killed in gunfire Monday afternoon in Helmand province in the south of the country.
“The temptation to judge this essential campaign by casualties alone undervalues the tremendous efforts of our forces and our allies, and the progress they are making,” the general said.
The unnamed soldier, from the Royal Anglian Regiment, was the 237th Briton to die in Afghanistan since the coalition forces invaded the country following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid tributes to the soldier, saying: “We will never forget those who have died fighting for our country and we must also honour their memory. That means staying the course, doing what is right for Britain, and seeing this mission through.”
He said Britain was contributing to a “worldwide effort to stop terrorism in our streets by tackling it at its roots in Afghanistan and Pakistan”.
British casualties in Afghanistan have emerged as a major political issue ahead of general elections due by June next year with the government having to fend off demands by army commanders for deploying more troops because of the potential political fallout at home.
Brown announced 500 more troops for Afghanistan last month, bringing the British total to 9,500.
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