updated 4/6/2007 10:52:54 PM ET 2007-04-07T02:52:54

A British female soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq was a close friend of Prince William, a spokesman for the royal family said Friday.

Second Lt. Joanna Yorke Dyer, 24, was among four soldiers killed when a British patrol was attacked early Thursday in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

William, who is second in line to the British throne, met Dyer while both were at the Sandhurst military academy, family spokesman Patrick Harrison said.

"Prince William was deeply saddened to hear the tragic news of Jo Dyer's death," said Harrison, press secretary for Prince Charles, William's father.

"Jo was a close friend of his at Sandhurst and he is very much thinking of her family and friends right now. They are in his thoughts and prayers."

William and his younger brother, Prince Harry, are both serving officers with the Blues and Royals, an elite cavalry regiment. Harry, third in line to the throne, is to be deployed to Iraq, the Ministry of Defense has said.

Dyer's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Mark Kenyon, said in a statement that the soldier was "a talented and energetic officer who was determined to make the most of her deployment to Iraq."

Prime Minister Tony Blair called the ambush an "act of terrorism" Thursday and suggested it may have been carried out by elements linked to Iran, although he stopped short of blaming Tehran.

The British patrol struck a roadside bomb and was hit by small-arms fire, a British military spokeswoman, Capt. Katie Brown, said. The explosion created a 9-foot crater in the road.

A civilian interpreter was also killed and a fifth British soldier was seriously wounded, Brown said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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