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UK bomb disposal expert killed in Afghanistan

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Soldier is at least 309th British killed in action in Afghanistan
  • He died in a gun battle
  • June has been an especially deadly month for foreign troops in Afghanistan

London, England (CNN) -- A British soldier was killed in a gunfight in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defense said Monday.

The soldier was part of the 101 Engineer Regiment, a bomb disposal unit.

His family has been told of his death and they asked that no more information be released about him for 24 hours, the ministry said.

The soldier is at least the 309th British fatality in Afghanistan since October 2001, when NATO-led forces invaded to topple the Taliban regime.

More than 1,100 Americans have been killed.

June has been a particularly deadly month for coalition troops in Afghanistan, with at least 96 killed, according to CNN records.

The United Kingdom has the second-largest contingent of foreign troops fighting insurgents in Afghanistan, after the United States.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday that British military forces must be out of Afghanistan before the next general election, scheduled to be held in 2015.

"We cannot be there for another five years, having been there for effectively nine years already," he told Sky News from Canada at the G8 and G-20 summits.

Cameron said he preferred "not to deal in too strict timetables," but said the goal is "not a perfect Afghanistan, but some stability in Afghanistan, and the ability of the Afghans themselves to run their country so we can come home."

Even then, though, Britain and Afghanistan must continue to work together, he said.

"Britain should have a long-term relationship with Afghanistan, including helping to train and support their troops and their civil society, their government and all sorts of parts of Afghanistan long after the vast bulk of the troops have gone," he said.

Cameron said failure to maintain long-term relations was one reason that British forces are now there.

"In the past, we walked away from countries like Afghanistan and, to an extent, from Pakistan, and allowed them to become the badlands they became," he said.