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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October, 2003, 19:59 GMT 20:59 UK
Two Britons killed in Somaliland
Enid and Richard Eyeington
Enid and Richard Eyeington were killed on Monday
Two British teachers working for a charity have been shot dead in northern Somalia.

Richard and Enid Eyeington were killed on Monday by unidentified gunmen in Somalia's self-declared republic of Somaliland, police in the territory said.

They were shot inside a school compound as they watched television, children's charity SOS Children's Villages told BBC News Online.

Their next of kin have been notified and their bodies have been taken from Sheikh Secondary School in Sheikh, 890 kilometres north of Mogadishu, to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

Mr Eyeington, 62, and his 61-year-old wife had been working in Africa for 32 years, a spokeswoman said.

Mr Eyeington's brother, John, described him as "do-gooder" who was passionate about teaching and helping people.

He always wanted to do the right thing...he was very moralistic and loved to help people
John Eyeington
Richard's brother

"We were very worried when he decided to go to Somalia. We knew it was dangerous and we thought he'd done enough already.

"But he was determined, and now he's paid for it with his life. It still came as a big shock when he was killed. Why would anyone want to do something so terrible?" he said.

Mr Eyeington said his brother had been very religious when he was younger and it was this that had led him into teaching.

"He always wanted to do the right thing. He was very moralistic and loved to help people," he added.

Mr Eyeington's sister Joyce, who lives in Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire, said: "They were two of the world's most both beautiful people - they were kind and both loved Africa."

SOS Children's Villages Secretary-General, Richard Pichler, paid tribute to the couple.

"Our sympathies are first and foremost with their two children and their grandchildren.

Somaliland map

"The whole SOS family worldwide mourns the loss of two invaluable and very committed family members," he said.

The son of a coal miner, Mr Eyeington grew up in Pelton Fell, County Durham, before going to grammar school and teacher training college.

The family first moved to Africa in 1962, where Mr Eyeington worked as a teacher in Kenya.

They later moved to Swaziland where Mr Eyeington was headmaster of a school attended by the children of former South African president, Nelson Mandela.

The couple leave two grown-up children, Louise, a barrister, and Mark, a teacher who still lives in Swaziland.

Motive unknown

The Eyeingtons joined SOS Children's Villages in June 1995, working in Swaziland, before moving to Somaliland in September 2002, where Mr Eyeington became head teacher.

The charity said their decision to work in Somaliland was "a culmination of their life experiences in the education of children and young people".

Their mission to the war-torn country was to be their last challenge before retirement.

We will also take all the necessary precautions to protect expatriates who are working in the country
Dahir Rayale Kahin
President of Somaliland

A motive for the attack is not known and an investigation has begun, the charity said.

Somaliland president Dahir Riyaleh Kahin said the government would "do everything possible to arrest those who have committed this barbarous and inhuman crime.

"We will also take all the necessary precautions to protect expatriates who are working in the country," he told a news conference in Somaliland's main town of Hargeisa.

Travel advice

The Foreign Office advises against all travel to southern Somalia and to the Sool and Sanaag parts of Somaliland.

It says there is a "high general threat" of terrorism towards Western, including British, targets in Somalia.

In 1991 the former British protectorate of Somaliland declared unilateral independence from Somalia, which is being torn apart by clan fighting.

Somaliland had been more peaceful than the rest of Somalia.

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"They had given their whole lives to Africa"

Country profile: Somalia
13 Aug 03  |  Country profiles
Shot teacher 'was devoted'
22 Oct 03  |  Wear

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