first_imgA soldier has been shot dead during a night-time live firing exercise on a military range.The unnamed male soldier from the Royal Regiment of Scotland was shot in the head and died at the scene during the exercise on Otterburn training area in Northumberland late on Monday evening.Both police and Ministry of Defence officials have launched investigations into his death, which sources said was believed to have been an accident. No arrests have been made. Northumberland police said emergency services were called to the training range at around 11.15pm on Monday night and found the victim had received “a serious head wound”.“Sadly he was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics,” a statement said.Soldiers are understood to have been taking part in small scale firing exercises overseen by military safety instructors when the incident took place. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Mike Penning, Armed Forces minister, said: “My thoughts are with the soldier’s family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.“The safety of our personnel is our absolute priority and while deaths in training don’t happen often, any death is a tragedy. As well as a police investigation, MoD accident investigators are looking into the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident.”Otterburn 58,000 acre training area was first established in 1911 as an artillery range, and conducts military live fire training almost throughout the year. Rev Peter Mander of Otterburn’s St John the Evangelist Church said: “There is a strong bond between the village and the camp and when a tragic event of this nature occurs it affects everyone.He went on: “But of course live firing exercises are a crucial part of training and they carry a risk.”There will be plenty time to establish what happened up there in the dark but now is the moment to reflect on the loss of a young life.”He was a young man doing his duty, a bit of training and a tragic accident like this happens.”The Army considers realistic live fire training to be critical for soldiers to keep their skills sharp, but former officers said it was inherently risky.Official MoD statistics show that 135 members of the Armed Forces have died during training exercises since 2000, including 13 shot dead by live fire.In November 2011 Fusilier James Wilkinson, 21, from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was killed when he was accidentally shot in the neck during an exercise in Kenya. Two soldiers were jailed over his death, but later had their sentences cut on appeal and were allowed to stay in the Army.The same year, Fusilier Dean Griffiths was killed when a bullet passed through the wall of a mocked-up Afghan compound and struck him during a training exercise at Lydd ranges in Kent.last_img read more