Challenger tank "damaged" by Iraq roadside bomb

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A British soldier is recovering in the UK after being seriously injured when a roadside bomb damaged his Challenger 2 tank in southern Iraq.

Responding to reports that the Challenger 2 tank's armour was pierced by the bomb on April 6th, a Ministry of Defence spokesperson confirmed that the tank had been "damaged".

He declined to specify further the nature of the damage caused but said the injured soldier suffered "very serious injuries" as a result of the attack and had been evacuated back to Britain.

Today's news has sparked concern that Britain's forces operating in Basra and southern Iraq may be increasingly at risk of bombs like the improvised explosive device (IED) which struck the tank earlier this month.

Defence analysts have said the potential weakness of the Challenger 2, which uses Chobham armour to give it the best protection available to Britain's tanks, undermines the security of British forces operating in Iraq.

Four British service personnel died one day before the April 6th blast when the Warrior armoured vehicle they were operating in was hit by a similar explosion.

In the aftermath of that incident senior British leaders, including UK prime minister Tony Blair, suggested that Iran may be providing many of the explosives causing so much damage to coalition forces in Iraq.

The origins of the bomb which damaged the Challenger 2 tank on April 6th remain unclear.

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