Britney Spears' former boyfriend and helicopter pilot, John Sundahl, who helped the pop star through her public meltdown and alcoholism in 2007, has been shot and killed by Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

Britney Spears
Spears' former love was shot down while flying a helicopter near Kabul

The 44-year-old pilot was reportedly shot down while flying from Kabul, where he had been working as a private contractor transporting officials across the war-torn country, according to The Mirror. "She is devastated," a source close to the 33-year-old singer told the U.K. newspaper. "Britney thought he was a lovely man."

Sundahl began dating Spears not long after they met during Alcohol Anonymous in Los Angeles almost eight years ago. While they were together, he spoke openly about her alcohol abuse and the damage she is causing.

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"I told her, 'If you fall off the wagon I don't think you'll live,'" Sundahl reportedly told the National Enquirer in 2007. "I told her, 'If you don't want to get sober for yourself, do it for your kids.'"

Speaking from John's home in Los Angeles, his brother Karl explained, "John was on a journey from Kabul when he was shot at and killed. We were told by the State that John had died, they told us the Taliban did it. This is just awful. My family are heartbroken, my parents are elderly so this is very tough for them, and all of us."

Spears has yet to publically comment on John's death, but his family say she will be devastated by his passing. "We know Britney's upset too. John was still good friends with Britney, he talked to her regularly," Karl said. "They dated for a while but always kept in touch afterwards."

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John's body was returned to the U.S. sometime last week, he was laid to rest in a small family funeral held at a Buddhist temple in Los Angeles. "It's heartbreaking - John went there to try to repair the country," added Karl. "He was trying to help people, he would often say that the country was in chaos."