Suffolk-based Airman Killed On Duty

25 February 2010, 11:21 | Updated: 26 February 2010, 14:17

An airman taking part in a vehicle-mounted patrol in Afghanistan was killed following an explosion.

Senior Aircraftman Luke Southgate, 20, from Bury St Edmunds, part of the Kandahar Airfield Defence Force, died as a result of his injuries. His family have paid tribute. They said: "We cannot find the words to describe the tragic loss of our dear son Luke. He was the best son, brother and boyfriend any of us could ever have wished for.

"He died doing the job he loved and always wanted to do. He will be in our hearts always and our thoughts forever.''

Lieutenant Colonel David Wakefield, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said: "It is my sad duty to inform you that an airman from 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment, part of the Kandahar Airfield Defence Regiment, was killed as a result of an explosion. He was on a mobile patrol in an area about four kilometres north of Kandahar Airfield when the explosion happened. He died doing his duty and among his fellow airmen. His sacrifice will not be

The death takes the number of British service personnel killed in the conflict to 264. The MoD said 231 had been killed as a result of hostile action.A further 33 died either as a result of illness, non-combat injuries or accidents, although some have yet to be assigned an official cause of death, a spokesman said.

The latest death was not linked to Operation Moshtarak - a joint UK, US and Afghan assault on insurgent strongholds.