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British Soldier Found Dead after Disappearance from Afghanistan Base

British SoldiersThe Ministry of Defence has confirmed that a British soldier, who had disappeared, has been found dead. The soldier is said to have left the central Helmand base, in southern Afghanistan, during the early hours of Monday but never returned. It’s believed he was completing guard duty at a vehicle checkpoint, but instead of joining his colleagues, he left the base and went missing. Defence secretary Liam Fox says that his next of kin have been contacted and will stay informed.

UK military sources have dismissed reports that the soldier was ambushed and taken, or that there was a firefight between British forces and insurgents. A Whitehall insider said that the soldier had been on sentry duty at a small vehicle checkpoint and finished his shift. Then he walked off and headed out of the base instead of going back to where the other soldiers were, which was the last they saw of him. They are still trying to figure out exactly what happened, and they can only work with what they know, which is that he has gone. They can’t even be sure that the Taliban had him, he added, as there are criminal gags in the area as well.

The Taliban has made several claims in relation to the disappearance of the soldier. A spokesman said that they captured and killed a foreign soldier after a firefight occurred in the Babaji area of southern Helmand on Sunday. However, another spokesman told other reporters that its fighters killed the soldier in a Sunday afternoon ambush, along with 4-6 other foreign troops. The Taliban makes exaggerated claims for publicity, and neither claim can be verified.

A spokesman for prime minister David Cameron said that he knows about the incident. However, this has no effect on a speech he intends to give on Wednesday to the Commons about the 500-800 extra British troops who are due to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The body of the soldier who had been missing was found by an Isaf patrol. Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Tim Pubrick says the soldier suffered gunshot wounds, but the actual cause of death still needs to be determined, along with the circumstances about his disappearance – both of which are being investigated. It won’t be right to comment any more about this, he continued, adding that their prayers and thoughts are with his family and friends.

In previous abductions of military persons, 3 Nato forces members have been captured in Afghanistan. In 2009, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was taken prisoner in the Paktika province and is believed to be in Pakistan. Two US Navy sailors disappeared in July last year in the Logar province, which led to a manhunt. Both of their bodies were found in Logar days later.

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