The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has reported that three British troops were killed and six other individuals seriously harmed after a large roadside bomb (IED) detonated and caused major damage to their Mastiff armored vehicle.
The 23 tonne vehicle, which has been in operation in Afghanistan since 2006, is designed to protect its occupants from attacks such as this. The report stated that the three soldiers were taken by air to a military hospital in Camp Bastion, where it was confirmed that “they were killed in action.”
The men were part of an ongoing patrol in Southern Afghanistan, in the Nahr-e Saraj region of Helmand Province on Tuesday, and were part of the The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
This is the first time, since 2007, that the Mastiff armored vehicle has suffered fatalities. It’s unclear at the moment whether the IED had penetrated the vehicle and exactly what type of damage was done.
The Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said:
“I was deeply saddened to learn of the deaths of these soldiers, each highly praised and respected by their colleagues and commanders. It is clear from the tributes paid to them that they were exceptional men who served their country with distinction. My thoughts go out to the families and friends of these brave men at this very difficult time.”
On March 7th, 2012 six British soldiers died after their Warrior armored vehicle was wrecked by a large IED in Lashkar Gah. It was thought that £1 billion upgrade to the Warrior armored vehicles came too late.
However, in this instance the Mastiff was specifically sent into combat to combat the use of IEDs by the Taliban. This raises concerns over changing tactics that the Taliban are employing and whether the Taliban will continue to have resources to use larger IEDs like this to inflict casualties on ISAF forces.
The UK has faced one of the heaviest death toll figures out of the ISAF countries in Afghanistan and since 2001 the UK has lost 444 service members; these are the first deaths to have occurred in 2013. Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has already ordered that the majority of British troops be pulled out by 2014 and for no combat troops to be in Afghanistan by 2015.’
Updated: EoD technicians from the 11th EoD Regiment estimate the size of the bomb to be in excess of 600lb, in a combination of explosive charges such as mines, artillery shells, and other improvised explosive devises. [Source: Express.co.uk] The wreck of the vehicle is currently being analysed by scientists from the government run Defence Science and Technology unit at Porton Down. Changes to the vehicles design will be made according to the report.