January 11, 2010 2:00 am

British journalist killed in Afghan blast

A British journalist has been killed in an explosion while travelling with US marines in southern Afghan-istan, the Ministry of Defence said yesterday.

Rupert Hamer, defence editor for the Sunday Mirror newspaper, was accompanying troops in Nawa district in Helmand province when the vehicle he was travelling in hit a roadside bomb.

He is the first British journalist to die in Afghanistan since 2001. Philip Coburn, a Sunday Mirror photographer, was wounded in the attack, which killed a US marine and an Afghan soldier. Mr Coburn remains in a stable but serious -condition.

Mr Hamer's colleagues at the Sunday Mirror praised a "fine, fearless and skilled writer". Tina Weaver, editor, said: "Rupert believed that the only place to report a war was from the front line, and as our defence correspondent he wanted to be embedded with the US marines at the start of their vital surge into southern Afghanistan."

Gordon Brown said he was "deeply saddened" by the "tragic news".

"My heartfelt thoughts and sympathies are with the families, friends and colleagues of Rupert and Philip," he said. "Their courage, skill and dedication to reporting from the front line was incredibly important and ensured that the world could see and read about our heroic troops. Their professionalism and commitment to our forces will not be -forgotten."

The sentiment was echoed by Bob Ainsworth, the defence secretary, who said he had got to know them well. "I was impressed by their hard work and professionalism," he said. "My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the families, friends and colleagues."

Michelle Lang, a Canadian journalist, was killed in a similar incident on December 30 when a bomb struck a light armoured vehicle in which she was travelling with Canadian troops south of Kandahar. Four soldiers were killed.

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