Six soldiers, five from 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment and one from 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, were on a mounted patrol when their Warrior armoured fighting vehicle was caught in an explosion.
Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Mackenzie, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said:
I have the tragic duty to report that six soldiers are missing, believed killed, during a security patrol. The six soldiers, five from 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment and one from 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, were on patrol in a Warrior armoured fighting vehicle when it was caught in an explosion in the Task Force Helmand Area of Operations.
Details are still being confirmed and further information will be released in due course. The families of the soldiers have been informed.
The Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, said:
This tragic incident brings home to us the dangers that are faced on a daily basis by the men and women of our Armed Forces deployed in Afghanistan. My thoughts are with the families and friends of the six soldiers who are missing, believed killed, and also with their colleagues, both in Afghanistan and the UK, whose brave work continues or is about to start.
I utterly condemn those responsible for this incident who will ultimately fail to derail a mission that is protecting our national security at home and making real progress in Helmand province - a testament to the bravery, commitment and professionalism of our Armed Forces.
We should never forget those who have lost their lives in Afghanistan to protect our national security.
It is because of the continuing efforts of our Armed Forces, working alongside the Afghan National Security Forces, that we are on course to build an Afghanistan that can stand on its own two feet when UK combat operations cease at the end of 2014 and never again becomes a haven for international terrorism.
Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, said:
I was deeply saddened by the news of this incident and that six soldiers are believed to have lost their lives doing what is a dangerous but important job.
My thoughts and prayers at this difficult time are with the families of those affected by this tragic event.
This campaign has seen many personal tragedies and we owe it to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to recognise that their courage and skill are visible in the ever more capable Afghan Army and Police.
Increasingly the Afghans themselves are taking the lead in providing security across Helmand. This transition is allowing Afghans to gain the confidence to reject the Taliban and live normal lives.
The courage, fortitude and determination of those servicemen and women currently in Helmand are inspirational. They have not once wavered but, every day, mix the professionalism of which we are all so proud with deep commitment and determination.
The support shown by the public towards our men and women continues to be a source of great strength for the Armed Forces. They feel strongly that they are protecting us all through their service in Afghanistan.