Irish Soldier Killed In Afghan Bomb Named

There has been another fatal explosion in Afghanistan, bringing the total death toll of British troops to 117.

The soldier - whose parents are from the Irish Republic - was from 1st Battalion, the Royal Irish Regiment.

The death of the 29-year-old comes just two days before the second anniversary of the death of another Royal Irish Regiment soldier, Lance Corporal Luke McCulloch, who was also killed by Taliban forces in the Sangin region.

The deceased was a former US serviceman, his parents having previously moved to the USA from their home in Ireland before returning to Co Cavan from where their son joined the British Army.

He has been named unofficially as Ranger Justin Cupples.

It is understood that Ranger Cupples was an Irish national but who was born in Miami in the USA.

He had formerly served in the US Navy and took part in the initial invasion of Afganistan in 2001.

In an interview with a local newspaper last year he said: "My parents are originally from Ireland and they had moved back there some years ago.

"So when I got out of the Navy five years ago I didn't really have any family in the States, so I moved back to Co Cavan.

"I lived there since 2003 and kind of missed the military, but at the same time I wanted to stay in Europe. So the Royal Irish seemed the best option to me at the time," the tragic soldier said.

He was on a routine foot patrol in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has said.

Lt Col David Reynolds, spokesman for British Forces in Afghanistan, said: "This is a tragic loss."

The Ministry of Defence said the explosion, near Sangin district centre early on Thursday, was believed to have been from an improvised explosive device.

The soldier was given first aid but died later.

Lt Col Reynolds said: "Our thoughts and sympathies are with the friends and family at this most difficult time."

Brig Gen Richard Blanchette, International Security Assistance Force spokesman, offered his condolences to relatives.

NI First Minister Peter Robinson said he was shocked and saddened by the death.

"We owe a great debt of gratitude to him and the young people who are fighting to build peace and stability in Afghanistan and protect us from the threat of international terrorism.

"The people of Northern Ireland will be deeply saddened to hear of his death and I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sympathy to his family and his colleagues who continue to fight in Afghanistan."


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