Body of Norwich-born journalist flown home

Tara GreavesThe body of Norwich-born journalist Rupert Hamer, the first British journalist to be killed in Afghanistan, was brought back to the UK today.Tara Greaves

Tributes were today paid to a Norwich-born man who was killed in Afghanistan at the weekend while covering the conflict for a national newspaper.

Journalist Rupert Hamer, who began his career at the Evening News's sister paper the Eastern Daily Press in the late 1980s, was working as the Sunday Mirror's defence correspondent when he died following a blast north-west of Nawa.

It is thought he is the first British journalist to be killed in Afghanistan.

The 39-year-old father of three young children was embedded with US marines when they were caught in the explosion while on patrol on Saturday , which also injured the newspaper's photographer Phil Coburn and killed a US marine.

Mr Hamer, who was born at the old Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, spent his early years at a home in Unthank Road and attended Town Close School, in Ipswich Road, before becoming a boarder at Gresham's School.

He regularly returned to Norfolk, where members of his family, including his father Nick, whom he was very close to, still live.

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Former EDP reporter Simon Stevens, who worked with Mr Hamer at the paper's Thetford office, said: 'He was a very good writer and very well read. He was an extremely likeable person with an infectious sense of humour.'

While Paul Durrant, the EDP's former assistant editor, said: 'I remember Rupert as a fresh-faced, sometimes shy teenager who started as a newsdesk assistant at the EDP, running errands and getting coffee, but he always impressed us with a quiet, steely determination to pursue the career he loved. He learnt his trade in Norfolk and he never forgot those values when he moved on to Fleet Street. I'm proud to have played a part in his formative years.'

Prime Minister Gordon Brown also paid tribute to Mr Hamer and Mr Coburn.

He said: 'I was deeply saddened by this tragic news and my heartfelt thoughts and sympathies are with the families, friends and colleagues of Rupert and Philip.

'Their courage, skill and dedication to reporting from the frontline was incredibly important and ensured that the world could see and read about our heroic troops.

'Their professionalism and commitment to our forces will not be forgotten.'

Mr Hamer, who had been in Afghanistan since New Year's Eve, had been the Sunday Mirror's defence correspondent since 2004 and had covered the armed forces across the Middle East and central Asia, the Oman, Bahrain, Iraq and Afghanistan.

If you would like to pay tribute to Mr Hamer, email