The British soldier killed in Afghanistan on Sunday was taking part in the biggest attack operation yet mounted by UK forces against the Taliban, the Ministry of Defence said yesterday.
Private Andrew Barrie Cutts, of 13 Air Assault Support Regiment, The Royal Logistics Corps, was among 500 British troops involved in Operation Snakebite to disrupt the Taliban's command and control in the notorious Sangin valley in the southern Helmand province.
He died after elements of the 3 Para Battle Group, which carried out the offensive, came under "significant fire" from Taliban forces.
"The battle group responded with overwhelming firepower and deliberate action to dislocate and disrupt the enemy who have attempted to rule local villages with fear and intimidation," a statement issued by British forces in Kandahar said.
The 19-year-old, from Blidworth, near Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, had been specially selected to work with the Regiment's Force Protection Troop providing firepower for logistic support convoys delivering supplies to British troops in the province.
He was shot when Taliban fighters attacked a mission to re-supply an outpost in Musa Qala, which is in the same area where three other soldiers were killed last Tuesday.
Pte Cutts, who joined the Army in July 2003, had been in Afghanistan since March 11.
He was described by his commanding officer as "a brave and exemplary soldier".
In a statement, the MoD said: "Andrew was immensely liked and respected by all those who knew him. He was a popular member of the troop who could always be relied upon to break the tension with a smile and a joke.
"A highly-skilled and diligent soldier, he was preparing himself for parachute selection on return to Colchester."