Army medic, 25, becomes third female soldier killed in Afghanistan after being shot dead ‘while tending to injured casualty’
A female army medic and a Royal Marine were yesterday shot dead while on patrol in Afghanistan.
Medic Channing Day, 25, from Northern Ireland, has been named as the 3 Medical Regiment soldier killed alongside a Royal Marine from 40 Commando while on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.
Afghan sources told that Miss Day was believed to have been attending a casualty when she was attacked and fatally wounded.
Killed: Female medic Channing Day, 25, from Comber in County Down, Northern Ireland, has been shot dead while on patrol in Afghanistan
Deaths: The Royal Marine, from 40 Commando and Ms Day, from 3 Medical Regiment, were on patrol in Helmand province (file picture) when they were killed yesterday
Corporal Sarah Bryant, 26, up, who was the first female soldier to be killed in Afghanistan, and Captain Lisa Jade Head, 29, down, who suffered fatal injuries in an explosion while clearing roadside bombs
However, the Ministry of Defence have been unable to confirm the exact circumstances of her death – saying the details surrounding the incident remained ‘confused’ at this stage.
Miss Day is now the third woman to have been killed in the war-torn country since operations began in 2001.
Tributes were today paid to the ‘bubbly and sporty teenager’ from Comber, Co Down, who dreamed of joining the army as a schoolgirl.
The third woman to die: Channing Day is the third female British soldier to be killed in Afghanistan
Her former teacher, Strangford College acting principal Paul Maxwell said: ‘She always said she wanted to join the army, she was pretty much focused on wanting to join the army.’
Ms Day and the Royal Marine are thought to have been killed by insurgents – but the BBC said an Afghan source claimed the deaths were from a ‘green on blue’ attack, where coalition troops are killed by their Afghan allies.
Military officials admitted today that there was ‘a very confusing picture’ and that an attack by a renegade Afghan soldier or by an allied unit could not be ruled out.
An Afghan police official said the deaths may have been caused by friendly fire from a British unit in a case of mistaken identity.
It was suggested the incident happened when a British patrol stumbled on an Afghan policeman washing for prayer at a stream and shot him dead after mistaking him for a Taliban fighter.
The gunfire caused another British patrol nearby to fear it was under attack. It opened fire – accidentally killing the two Britons – Helmand police spokesman Farid Ahmad Farhang is reported to have claimed.
Investigators were today interviewing survivors of the firefight amid the conflicting claims about what happened.
The source said the details of the incident were still unclear because the people who knew what happened were not in a ‘state’ to write down witness statements or explain what they saw.
A suspected Afghan insurgent died alongside the pair but he was not on patrol with them when they were killed, the MoD said today.
Sporty: Channing Day dreamed of joining the army since she was a schoolgirl
Tragic: The family of Channing Day, pictured with her mother Rosemary, have been informed of her death
At work: Channing Day was killed alongside a Royal Marine in the attac
The man – although believed to be a member of the Afghan Uniformed Police – was not wearing uniform at the time and was not on patrol with British troops.
An MoD spokesman said: ‘On October 24, during a UK foot patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province, there was an exchange of gunfire that resulted in the deaths of a Royal Marine from 40 Commando Royal Marines, a female soldier from 3 Medical Regiment and an Afghan man who is believed to be a member of the Afghan Uniformed Police but who was not wearing uniform at the time.
‘The UK patrol were not working with any Afghan partners at the time.’
The spokesman said an investigation is ongoing into what initiated the exchange of gunfire but the situation ‘remains unclear’.
Major Laurence Roche, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said: ‘I am extremely sorry to announce the deaths of a Royal Marine from 40 Commando and a soldier from 3 Medical Regiment serving with Task Force Helmand.
‘This is dreadful news for all of us serving in Afghanistan. Our sincere condolences go to their families, friends and colleagues at this time of grief.’
Their deaths take the total number of UK service members to have died since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001 to 435.
Two other British female personnel have died in Afghanistan since 2001.
The first British women to die in action was Cpl Sarah Bryant, 26, from Cumbria, in June 2008.
She was one of four soldiers to be killed when her Snatch Land Rover was caught in an explosion in the Lashkar Gah area.
In April last year, Captain Lisa Jade Head, from 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps died in a UK hospital from injuries suffered in an explosion while clearing roadside bombs in the Nahr-e Saraj area.
Two more: The deaths take the total number of UK service members to have died since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001 to 435 (file picture)
A CHILDHOOD DREAM
Channing Day harboured a schoolgirl dream of joining the Army, a teacher at her former school said.
As a bubbly and sporty teenager in Northern Ireland she completed work experience with the forces in 2002 and worked well with everybody there, Strangford College acting principal Paul Maxwell added.
She was always physically fit and achieved top grades in PE, excelling at gymnastics, trampolining and netball.
Mr Maxwell said: ‘She always said she wanted to join the Army, she was pretty much focused on wanting to join the Army.’
He said her sporting prowess revealed her gritty determination to succeed.
‘It was not just that she was good but that she always showed commitment, she stayed after school and did all the practice,’ he added.
Ms Day left school at 16 and Mr Maxwell said he believed she went straight into the Army.
The acting principal added: ‘Every pupil is dear to us and I can remember Channing as if it was yesterday, somebody we remember as being young, and still so young, is suddenly killed in such a tragic way.’