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Army's chief bomb officer resigns over Afghanistan

The British Army's top bomb disposal officer has resigned, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a statement on Monday.

world Updated: May 24, 2010 07:27 IST

The British Army's top bomb disposal officer has resigned, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a statement on Monday.

The MoD said Colonel Bob Seddon, who held the post of Principal Ammunition Technical Officer (PATO), would step down in January.

The Sun newspaper said Seddon was quitting over concerns that a shortage of trained bomb disposal experts was putting troops in Afghanistan under strain.

"I am very concerned over the pressures they are facing in Afghanistan," the paper quoted Seddon as saying in a BBC documentary to be broadcast later on Monday.

"We've broadened our training and selection but it will take time before these measures come into play. The existing cohort are going to be under pressure," Seddon said.

Britain's new Foreign Secretary William Hague and other senior ministers were in Afghanistan at the weekend to get a first-hand look at the situation in the country.

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government formed after the May 6 election says its top foreign policy priority is the strategy for Afghanistan, where Britain has 9,500 troops battling Taliban insurgents.

Some 285 British soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001, when the NATO mission there was launched and Britain has struggled to turn the tide on an insurgency in the restive southern Helmand province, where most of its troops are deployed.

"We can confirm that the current PATO has resigned and will leave his post and the Army in January next year," an Army spokesman said in the statement.

"The Army remains committed to the counter IED (improvised explosive devise) effort which is the number one priority in Afghanistan," the spokesman said.