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Mourners attend Gunner Zak Cusack's funeral

Gunner Zak Cusack
Image caption Gunner Cusack was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan

The funeral has been taking place of a soldier shot dead during a firefight in Afghanistan.

Gunner Zak Cusack, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, died last month during a foot patrol with Afghan National Army personnel near Nahr-e Saraj in Helmand.

Several roads around St Saviour's Church in Smallthorne were closed for the service. The 20-year-old served with the 4th Regiment Royal Artillery.

His family has described him as "courageous and compassionate".

'Very sad day'

It was his second tour of duty in the war zone, having first been deployed on his 18th birthday in 2007.

At the time of his death, his commanding officers praised his professionalism, energy and character.

Those lining the nearby streets for the service, applauded as the hearse carrying his coffin arrived at the church.

Speaking before the service, Major Christopher Lovick said: "It is a very, very sad day for the 4th Regiment Royal Artillery as we lay to rest one of our finest young men.

"Zak Cusack was a first-class soldier whose steadfast professionalism, dedication and courage touched all those who served alongside him.

"He was a hugely popular young man whose abrupt departure has been strongly felt by the whole regiment. We will always cherish his memory as an outstanding soldier."

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