A British Army soldier was shot dead while on patrol in Afghanistan Thursday, said the Ministry of Defence.

The soldier, from the 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment, was killed in the Nahr-e Saraj District, Helmand Province. He sustaining a fatal gunshot wound when his patrol was attacked by insurgents.

"The death of this brave soldier is a tragedy which has affected us all," said Lt. Col. Gordon Mackenzie, spokesman for Task Force Helmand. "His loss will be deeply felt by his family, friends and loved ones, and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very difficult time."

The soldier's next of kin have been informed.

His death takes the total number of service personnel killed in Afghanistan since October 2001 to 384, of which at least 338 were killed in combat. In Afghanistan, Britain has around 9,500 troops which makes it the second-largest contributor to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.