A ROYAL Marine from York has been killed in an explosion in Afghanistan, a day before his 24th birthday.

Friends of David Hart today paid tribute to the marine, saying “he lived a hero and died a hero”.

Marine Hart, from Poppleton, was killed in the blast in Sangin in southern Afghanistan, becoming York’s third victim of the conflict.

The serviceman, from 40 Commando, was killed while on a joint foot patrol with Afghan soldiers on Thursday evening. His family have been told.

Marine Hart was the 101st member of UK forces killed in the deadly Sangin area of Helmand Province, which Britain will hand over to US Marines later this year.

Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said: “It is with great sadness I must inform you that a Marine from 40 Commando Royal Marines was killed by an explosion in Sangin yesterday evening.

“He was part of a joint foot patrol, along with his fellow Marines and Afghan National Army partners, when he was struck by an explosion.

“He died a Marine, in the course of his duty, and while improving the lives of local nationals in Sangin.

“His bravery and sacrifice will not be forgotten. We will remember him.”

The marine is the third York serviceman to die in Afghanistan, following the deaths of Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton, 23, from Haxby, last August, and Trooper Ashley David Smith, 21, from Acomb, last month.

A British soldier from 5th Regiment Royal Artillery was also killed in a blast in Sangin on Thursday. He has yet to be named by the Ministry of Defence.

Nearly a third of the 314 British deaths in Afghanistan since 2001 have happened in Sangin, currently home to the Royal Marines and supporting units of 40 Commando Battle Group.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox confirmed on Wednesday that UK forces would be withdrawn from the district in the autumn.

A US Marines battle group will be moved from Nimruz Province to take control of the area.

The handover will leave the British military effort concentrated in central Helmand, which covers a relatively small area, but is home to a third of the province’s population.

Facebook tributes

FRIENDS of David Hart on the social networking website Facebook paid tribute to the fallen hero.

One said: “I cannot believe it has happened to such a lovely person, it is so sad, they all need to come home.”

Another said: “Devastated does not begin to describe how I feel. RIP. Thinking of all his family at this time.”

Another friend described him as the “nicest lad ever”.

Another said: “Lived a hero and died a hero. Rest in peace Dave, you will be truly missed.”

Book of condolence for David Hart>>