Britain paid tribute Thursday to a Gurkha soldier killed in Afghanistan this week, the first of the Nepalese fighters to die in the conflict.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) identified him as 28-year-old Yubraj Rai, a member of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles who was killed by enemy fire Tuesday in southern Afghanistan.

"Yubraj Rai was an extraordinary character and a hard professional soldier with a proven operational record," said battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Chris Darby.

"Big, strong and highly experienced, Rifleman Yubraj was one of the cornerstones of his company and he was known throughout the battalion for his presence, drive and his ability as a soldier," he added.

"Yubraj was a proud Nepali, a proud soldier and was exceptionally proud of being a Gurkha rifleman."

Rai was taking part in a joint operation by NATO and Afghan forces against enemy forces to the south of Musa Qala. The MoD said Wednesday that he had received medical treatment at the scene, but died of his wounds.