A Co.Derry soldier, Aaron McCormick, who died in Afghanistan on Remembrance Sunday was courageous and brave, the Northern Ireland Secretary has said.

The 22-year-old, who was a member of the Royal Irish Regiment, was caught in a blast while on patrol in the Nad'e Ali area of Helmand province last Sunday morning.

The young man who was from Macosquin in Co.Derry is the 344th UK military personal to have died in Afghanistan since 2001.

Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson said: "On the day that we remembered all those who died defending freedom and democracy another brave young man gave his life in that cause.

"This conflict is global but the grief and pain of loss is intensely personal. My thoughts are with the family and friends of this courageous soldier."

According to Ulster Unionist Assembly member David McClarty, the victim's mother was involved in preparing boxes to be sent to soldiers in Afghanistan.

"Now is the time for our thoughts and prayers to be very much with the family of the young soldier who has lost his life so tragically and so untimely in Afghanistan, particularly yesterday which was Remembrance Sunday when certainly the majority of us were thinking about those young men and women who have given their lives for the sake of freedom not just in this country but throughout the world," he said.

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, offered his deepest sympathies to the young man’s family: “This death brings home the reality of war. Remembrance Sunday is not about the past, it’s about the present.”

"It's about the family in Northern Ireland who are now grieving the loss of their boy. I  extend my deepest sympathies to them," he added.