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Bomb disposal 'talisman' killed in Afghanistan

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 10 February 2010

British Army bomb disposal expert David Markland, killed in Afghanistan while clearing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), has been hailed as a "talismanic figure".

Bomb expert Warrant Officer David Markland, 36 Engineer Regiment, who was killed in Afghanistan on 8 February. (Credit: Ministry of Defence)

Warrant Officer Class 2 David Markland, of 36 Engineer Regiment, died as he led a team clearing routes of IEDs in Nad-e-Ali in Helmand province on Monday.

His death came ahead of a major joint British, US and Afghan offensive against the Taliban in Nad-e-Ali called Operation Moshtarak.

WO2 Markland, a married father of two, originally from Euxton, Lancashire, was on his eighth operational tour after 20 years in the army.

The 36-year-old is the latest in a line of explosives experts to pay the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan, in the last eighteen months.

Sapper David Watson, who was serving with 33 Engineer Regiment died on New Year's Eve, followed just days later by Captain Daniel Read from 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Regiment.

Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid, from the Royal Logistics Corps, died in October 2009 as he too tried to make a device safe. In a TV interview, he had previous described the job as "extremely intense".

In September 2008 Warrant Officer Gary O'Donnell was killed in Helmand while attempting to disarm an IED.

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth has paid tribute to the latest casualty: "I was deeply saddened to hear about WO2 David Markland's death.

"He was an experienced and extremely courageous soldier, who had distinguished himself on operations in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."

WO Markland's death brought the overall death toll in Afghanistan since operations began to 256, one more than the number of troops killed in the Falklands war.

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