FIJI soldier Lance Corporal Duane Groom has become the latest British Army casualty in Afghanistan after he was killed in the deadly Helmand Province over the weekend.
According to the British Ministry of Defence, Lance Corporal Groom, 32, died in action when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in the Nahr-e Saraj District of Helmand Province.
Two other soldiers from his unit — The Queen's Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards — also lost their lives in the same incident.
He is the 10th Fijian soldier in the British Army to have lost his life in Afghanistan and is the 3rd Fijian casualty this year.
Speaking to The Fiji Times, British Army support officer with the British High Commission in Fiji, Major Jim Hall, said Lance Corporal Groom died early on Saturday morning (Fiji time).
He said Lance Corporal Groom's next of kin and funeral arrangements were being made to have the Fiji citizen buried in New Zealand.
"Lance Corporal Groom had appointed his sister in New Zealand as his next of kin and it is the family's wishes that he be buried in New Zealand so we are currently working to facilitate this request," he said.
Major Hall said Lance Corporal Groom would be accorded a full military funeral in New Zealand but for the moment his body was still in Afghanistan and was likely to be brought to England on Thursday.
Lieutenant Colonel James Bowder Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards praised Lance Corporal Groom for his service.
"Lance Corporal Groom was an outstanding soldier in every respect," Lt-Col Bowder said.
"Tough, keen, and unflappable, he was utterly committed to his fellows and the cause. We are all tremendously proud of what he achieved during his time in the Regiment, and particularly out here in Afghanistan where he contributed so much.
"His many friends and the broader Battlegroup will never forget this most talented of men.
"Moreover, we are determined to finish the mission that he so bravely helped to start. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends outside the Regiment at this most difficult of times."
Corporal Joe Roligadra, of the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh who joined the British Army with Lance Corporal Groom, said the late soldier was like a big brother to him.
"He was the sort of person who always had your back covered in good times and in bad times. We have been through a lot together before we joined the army and he was always very decent and generous to me," Corporal Roligadra said.
"The loyalty that he showed me was over and above that of normal brotherhood. I remember that when things got rough he would always tell me: 'Joe, everything is going to be OK' and he always shared everything he had with me."