COLLEAGUES of a Gurkha whose body was brought back to Britain yesterday have paid tribute to their friend and to the support shown by the people of Oxfordshire.

Lance Corporal Gajbahadur Gurung, of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, was shot and killed on patrol in Afghanistan on January 27.

The body of the 26-year-old, who was born in Nepal, was repatriated at RAF Brize Norton yesterday and about 300 people turned out at the memorial garden near Carterton to pay their respects.

Ten members of The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers, who trained with L Cpl Gurung in 2005, travelled from Maidstone in Kent to attend.

Lance Corporal Santosh Gurung said: “He was very friendly to everyone and he was a good soldier.

“It is a very sad moment for us because we have lost our good friend, but we are also very proud of him.

“He gave his life for this country, his colleagues and everyone who is fighting against terrorism at this present time.”

He added: “The support from the local community is good for him and his family, and for us as well.

“It shows there is a good relationship between the Gurkhas and the local community and makes us realise that we are not giving our life in vain.”

Sapper Rabin Thapa said: “I feel heartbroken because we were training for a very long time together and he was very close to us.

“The last time I saw him was on leave two years ago.

“It was a very special moment for me and I have a picture of him from the time.

“All we can do now is pray for him to rest in peace.”

Sapper Bishnu Magar said: “It is a very sad moment for us. We hope he rests in peace.”

He said he felt “very proud” of the support shown by the people of Oxfordshire, adding: “We appreciate that respect the most.”

About 35 members of L Cpl Gurung’s family attended the repatriation and laid flowers on the hearse as it paused in front of them at the memorial garden.

Royal British Legion family liaison officer Lynn Little said: “The family are absolutely devastated.

“His wife could not be down here because she was so overwhelmed with grief.

“But the family are grateful for what the community has done.”

After leaving the memorial garden, the cortege travelled to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where a post mortem examination will be carried out..

About 200 people lined the streets of Headley Way to pay their respects. Oxford Royal British Legion chairman Jim Lewendon said: “As always, the whole thing was quite emotional.

“We will continue to be here for as long as it takes, but I always hope this will be the last one.”