Afghanistan soldier named by MoD as Pte John Howard

image captionPte Howard was possibly killed by friendly fire, the Ministry of Defence has said

The Ministry of Defence has named a soldier killed in Afghanistan as Private John Howard, from 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment.

The 23-year-old New Zealand-born soldier was serving with 16 Air Assault Brigade's Reconnaissance Force when he was killed on Sunday.

The MoD is investigating if "friendly fire" killed him during a patrol against insurgents in Helmand province.

His family said he had been "immensely proud" to be a Para.

The number of UK service personnel killed in operations in the country since 2001 stands at 346.

Pte Howard, who was known as Jack, was on patrol six miles (10km) south-west of the provincial capital of Helmand province, Lashkar Gah.

Officials said first reports of the death had indicated that an attack on an insurgent position by a US aircraft may have been the cause.

The aircraft attack had been requested by UK forces on the ground, they added.

Pte Howard had moved to the UK from New Zealand to join the British Army. He completed infantry training in November 2007, and was sent to Afghanistan in 2008 and in 2010.

He qualified as a sharp shooter and a team medic.

His family - parents Roger and Anne, and sisters Charlotte and Isabella - said in a statement: "Jack came from a loving family, with a long military history. He was the fourth generation of our family to serve in the military.

media captionJohn Howard's parents said they would fly their son's body home to New Zealand once it had arrived back in Britain.

"Jack was well read and believed strongly in what he was doing. He had an understanding of the conflict he was engaged in and prepared his position robustly. However he never let his profession detract from his innate humanity."

'Drive and determination'

Commanding officer Lt Col James Coates described him as "the archetypal Paratrooper".

"Choosing to leave behind a life in his native New Zealand, he volunteered for the challenges of service in The Parachute Regiment and rose to those challenges time and time again.

"He had always aspired to serve in this role, very much in the vanguard of operations in Afghanistan, and he fulfilled his aspiration in spades."

Defence Secretary Liam Fox paid tribute to the soldier.

"It is clear to me from the tributes paid to him that Private Jack Howard was an immensely well-liked soldier and an exceptionally gifted Paratrooper.

"That he chose to leave his native New Zealand to join the British Army to fight for the freedoms we all enjoy across the world speaks to his drive and determination."

The Howard family said they would travel to the UK to collect their son's body, after it had been repatriated from Afghanistan, and take it back to New Zealand.