UK

UK soldier killed in Afghanistan blast named

Trooper Ashley Smith
Image caption Trooper Smith was described as a "highly impressive" soldier

A soldier from The Royal Dragoon Guards who died in an explosion in Afghanistan has been named as Trooper Ashley David Smith.

He had been guarding comrades as they cleared land in front of a checkpoint in the Nahr-e Saraj district, Helmand, when he was hit by the blast on Friday.

The 21-year-old from York was the 299th member of the UK armed forces to have died in Afghanistan since 2001.

His parents, Sandra and Dave, said they were "immensely proud" of him.

"He worked hard and was passionate about what he was doing and proud of all he had achieved," they told the Ministry of Defence website.

"Everyone that knew Ashley loved him and he was the best son any mother and father could have wished for, and a loving brother to his brothers and sisters."

Trooper Smith is also survived by his girlfriend, Sarah.

He had joined the Royal Dragoon Guards in 2008 and served in Canada before going to Afghanistan.

There, he had volunteered to join a patrol in an area known to be sown with makeshift bombs.

Trooper Smith's commanding officer, Lt Col James Carr-Smith, described him as a "highly impressive young man".

"He was full of energy, very popular and tremendously good company.

"He loved the camaraderie that the regiment offered and he loved soldiering."

Trooper Smith's comrades described him as a talented sportsman with a passion for basketball.

Trooper Michael Noonan said: "His great sense of humour made sure he had plenty of friends within the squadron.

"He loved to laugh, even when the going got tough, but he was dedicated to the troop and wanted to be in Afghanistan with the boys."

Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said it was clear from the tributes that Trooper Smith would be truly missed.

"Trooper Smith died whilst protecting and improving the lives of the local population in a highly volatile area, and his sacrifice in this vital mission will never be forgotten," he said.