Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Afghan soldier Scott McLaren's body repatriated

Family members beside the hearse
Image caption Family members watched as the hearse drove through the town

The body of an Edinburgh soldier who went missing in southern Afghanistan and was later found dead has been repatriated.

Highlander Scott McLaren, of 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, had left his post in Helmand province alone, early on 4 July.

The 20-year-old, from Sighthill, was later found dead with bullet wounds.

After a private ceremony his coffin was driven through nearby Wootton Bassett at about 1545 BST.

The plane carrying his body landed in the UK just after 1300 BST.

Highlander McLaren's disappearance from a Nato checkpoint in central Helmand sparked a massive 17-hour search.

Described as an extremely accomplished runner who was known to his friends as F1, he joined the Army in August 2009.

Last week, in a statement from his family, parents James and Ann, sister Kirsty and brothers James and Ross, said: "We were extremely proud of Scott. He loved the Army and despite his short time in 4 Scots had made many friends.

"His family and friends... will miss him dreadfully. We will always be thinking of him."

The day before he went missing, Highlander McLaren and colleagues were deployed to a checkpoint where they were helping to hold and secure a bridge in the northern area of Nahr-e-Saraj.

Lieutenant Colonel Alastair Aitken MBE, commanding officer of Combined Force Lashkar Gah and The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, paid tribute to the serviceman, describing him as a soldier of "true grit" who became the "most reliable and conscientious member of his platoon".

The number of British military deaths in operations in Afghanistan since 2001 now stands at 375.

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