KABUL – Taliban insurgents on Thursday claimed responsibility for planting the bomb that killed six British troops on patrol in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province.
“Mujahedeen (holy warriors) of the Islamic emirate have reported that a land mine of mujahedeen blew apart a tank of British invading forces in Greshk district,” the Taliban said in a statement on their website.
“All the invaders on board were incinerated,” it added.
The British defence ministry said the Warrior vehicle was hit by an explosion in Helmand on Tuesday, without specifying the source of the blast.
There had been speculation the explosion, which wrecked the heavily armoured tank-tracked vehicle, could have been caused by a Soviet-era mine.
Military sources said Thursday that while the blast was still under investigation it was now believed to have been caused by an IED, or improvised explosive device — a favourite weapon of the Taliban.
The deaths of the six soldiers took the British toll in the war to more than 400 since 2001, when the Taliban were toppled from power by a US-led invasion.
It was the biggest British loss of life in a single incident in Afghanistan since a Nimrod aircraft crashed in 2006, killing 14 crew.
Britain has around 9,500 troops serving in the US-led NATO force of 130,000 in Afghanistan.
In keeping with the rest of the coalition, Britain is due to end combat operations in Afghanistan and transfer responsibility for security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.