British toll in Afghanistan reaches 300


London: The British death toll in Afghanistan reached 300 Monday, a milestone that prompted Prime Minister David Cameron to repeat his pledge that British forces would leave the country as soon as Afghans were able to guarantee its security.

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An elite Royal Marine soldier, who was injured in a roadside bomb blast in the Sangin area of Helmand province June 12, died of his injuries in a hospital in Birmingham, England, the Ministry of Defence said.

Cameron said the death of the 300th British soldier in Afghanistan since the conflict began in 2001 was “desperately sad news”. But it was no less tragic than the 299 which went before.

“We are paying a high price for keeping our country safe… and we should keep asking why we are there and how long we must be there,” said Cameron in a statement.

As soon as Afghan forces were able to take care of the security of their own country, British troops could leave, he said.

Cameron, who became prime minister in mid-May, said during a visit in Afghanistan 10 days ago that British forces would not be there “a day longer than they need to be”.

The death toll surpasses the 258 British soldiers who died in the 1982 Falklands conflict and the 179 British soldiers who died in Iraq between 2003 and 2009.