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Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2005, 23:55 GMT
Bandits murdered two aid workers
Enid and Richard Eyeington
The couple were shot while watching television in their living quarters
Two Britons were shot in cold blood by gunmen while teaching in Somaliland in October 2003, an inquest has heard.

Richard Eyeington, 62, and his wife Enid, 60, were gunned down in their living quarters in the town of Sheikh.

The couple were originally from County Durham, but had lived in Africa since 1963 working with children.

Westminster coroner Dr Paul Knapman recorded a verdict of unlawful killing. Four men have been convicted of the murders in Somaliland, the court heard.

It was told that despite family concerns, the Eyeingtons had taken up an offer to set up a new school at Sheikh in 2002.

Metropolitan Police officers travelled from London to help Somaliland authorities catch the killers.

'Terrible tragedy'

There was no breakthrough until March 2004 when a German aid worker and his Kenyan girlfriend were attacked in Somalia and a man was arrested and confessed to killing the Eyeingtons, the court heard.

Detective Chief Inspector Jill Bailey told the hearing that last month four men, including the man who fired the rifle, Mohammed Ali Essa, were convicted of the murder and sentenced to death by firing squad.

She said the men had been part of a terror cell called El Itihad, which had killed an Italian nun in Somalia a week before the couple's deaths.

They had great courage, commitment and honesty. The world is a poorer place without them
Eyeington family statement

She said it was possible that Essa's brother-in-law, who owned the house Essa was captured in, had links to al-Qaeda.

She said: "The defendants did not recognise their actions as crimes. They felt justified in murdering infidels who they believed were offending Muslim fundamentalism."

DCI Bailey said Essa said he thought the Eyeingtons were converting Africans to Christianity and the group wanted to set up an Islamic state in Somaliland.

Dr Knapman said: "This is a terrible tragedy where two people who had dedicated their lives to improving the lives of underprivileged African children were murdered in cold blood and appear to be victims of terrorism abroad."

The Eyeington family said in a statement: "Dick and Enid dedicated most of their lives to the education of underprivileged African children.

"They had great courage, commitment and honesty. The world is a poorer place without them and they will forever be missed by their friends and family. We greatly appreciate the work of the Metropolitan Police in this case."

Regions and territories: Somaliland
10 Nov 04 |  Country profiles

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