LONDON (CGN) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ A British soldier serving in Iraq has died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Ministry of Defence in London said Friday, adding that an investigation is underway.
The soldier — who has not been identified — was serving with 20 Armoured Brigade at the British base outside the main southern Iraqi city of Basra. He died Thursday.
“At approximately 2200 hours (1900 GMT) local time, a report was received of a soldier who had suffered a gunshot wound, within the Contingency Operating Base,” the ministry said in a statement.
“Immediate medical assistance was provided, but sadly the soldier died at the scene.”
No enemy forces were involved, and there was “no evidence at this stage to suggest that any third party was involved in the incident”.
The soldier’s death brings to 178 the total number of British troops who have died in the Iraq operation since the US-led invasion in March 2003. Of these, 136 were killed as a result of hostile action.
The last British soldier to die in Iraq did so of a gunshot wound to the head on December 4. Again, no enemy forces were involved.
From a peak of 46,000 British soldiers in 2003, just 4,000 remain in Iraq and the majority are currently confined to Basra air base outside the oil port city.
Britain will start pulling troops from Iraq in March and most will leave by June, news reports said Wednesday, but the Ministry of Defence denied that US soldiers would take their place.
Citing a senior defence source, the BBC and The Times newspaper said the pull-out was planned to begin in March if provincial elections in January passed off peacefully.