Britain's defense ministry says a military policeman has been killed in a gun battle in southern Afghanistan.

The ministry says the soldier was killed during an operation in the Babaji area of the southern province of Helmand.

Lt. Col. David Wakefield said in a statement that the soldier, who has not yet been named, was killed early Wednesday as a result of small arms fire.

The soldier's death brings to 234 the number of British military personnel who have died in Afghanistan since the start of operations there in late 2001.

No further details of the incident were immediately disclosed. The ministry said the soldier's family has been notified.