Three British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan when their vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device, the UK Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

The attack took place yesterday during a routine patrol in Nahr-e Saraj district, in Helmand Province.

Corporal William Savage and Fusilier Samuel Flint were from the Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment Of Scotland.

Private Robert Hetherington was from the 51st Highland, 7th Battalion The Royal Regiment Of Scotland.

Six other soldiers were injured in the explosion.

It is the first time British troops have died in an armoured Mastiff vehicle since it was introduced in 2007.

"Their deaths come as a great loss to all those serving in Task Force Helmand," said Major Richard Morgan, a spokesman for the task force.

The Taliban launched its spring offensive on Sunday, saying it would target foreign military bases and diplomatic areas.

Nearly 450 British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since Britain deployed its military there in October 2001, including six this year.

"Our thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones in this incident, which underlines the threats faced by our personnel as they continue to hand over security operations to their Afghan counterparts ahead of UK combat operations concluding by the end of next year," the UK's Ministry of Defence said.