Three British soldiers have been killed in a roadside bomb attack in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.
The soldiers from the The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland were killed on 30 April after their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED) whilst on a routine patrol.
The three troops were airlifted to the military hospital at Camp Bastion but could not be saved. Their deaths bring the total number of British fatalities since operations began in Afghanistan in 2001 to 444, with six occurring this year.
Nine Afghans were also killed and a further six soldiers injured in the blast. The killed soldier's next of kin have been informed.
Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Major Richard Morgan, said: "It is with deep sadness that I must confirm that 3 soldiers from The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, have died after their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.
"Their deaths come as a great loss to all those serving in Task Force Helmand. Our thoughts and prayers are extended to their family and friends at this difficult time."
Prime Minister David Cameron said British troops are paying a "very high price" for Britain's operations in Afghanistan.
He told ITV's daybreak: "It is important work because it is vital that that country doesn't again become a haven for terrorists, terrorists that can threaten us here in the UK, but today our thoughts should be with the families and friends of those that have suffered."
The MOD said: "Our thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones in this incident, which underlines the threats faced by our personnel as they continue to hand over security operations to their Afghan counterparts ahead of UK combat operations concluding by the end of next year.
"Security in Helmand, where most UK forces are based, is steadily improving with Afghan forces already responsible for the bulk of the province - but the environment in which our troops operate remains risky and dangerous, including the threat of improvised explosive devices and insurgent attack.
"We will continue to do all we can to minimise these risks but they can never be removed entirely."
The attack occurred on the third day of what the Taliban is calling its spring offensive.