Scottish Soldier Brought Home

The body of a British soldier who was found dead after he went missing in southern Afghanistan will be repatriated to the UK today.

Highlander Scott McLaren, of 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, disappeared from a Nato checkpoint in central Helmand province on July 4, sparking a 17-hour search.

The 20-year-old, who was found dead with gunshot wounds, will be flown into RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire.

A private service will be held at the base's chapel before the cortege passes through nearby Wootton Bassett.

As has become tradition, local people and Royal British Legion members are expected to join his family and friends to line the high street in tribute.

It is understood the military believes Highlander McLaren was killed by enemy forces but the circumstances of his death remain unclear.

The Taliban claimed it had captured the soldier during a firefight with foreign troops in the Babaji district of Helmand and that he died in crossfire shortly afterwards.

This version of events could not be corroborated and Nato said there were no reports of a battle in the area. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) gave no further details about what happened.

Colleagues of Highlander McLaren - who deployed to Afghanistan as a Rifleman in April - described him as a man of "true grit'' with a "heart of gold''.

The soldier, from the Sighthill area of Edinburgh, leaves behind his parents James and Ann, sister Kirsty and brothers James and Ross.

A statement released on behalf of his family said: "We are deeply saddened by the news that our dear son Scott was killed in Afghanistan. We were extremely proud of Scott.

He loved the Army and, despite his short time in 4 Scots, had made many friends.''

Temporarily attached to 1st Battalion The Rifles Battlegroup, he was deployed to checkpoint Salaang to help secure a "vital'' bridge in the northern area of Nahr-e-Saraj.

The incident brings the total number of UK military personnel who have died since operations in Afghanistan began in 2001 to 375.