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Last Updated: Friday, 5 September, 2003, 19:47 GMT 20:47 UK
Bomb expert killed in Iraq
Ian Rimell
Ian Rimell was awarded the British Empire Medal for his work
A 53-year-old British bomb disposal expert has been killed in a roadside ambush in northern Iraq.

Ian Rimell, from Kidderminster, Worcestershire, died near the city of Mosul.

The married father-of-three was killed and his local bodyguard seriously injured when they were attacked on Thursday afternoon, as they drove along a main road to the northern Iraqi city.

Mr Rimell, who was working for the British-based charity Mines Advisory Group (Mag), was driving in a vehicle with the distinctive Mag emblem when the gunmen struck.

The 53-year-old's bodyguard, Salem Ahmed Mohammed, was left in a critical condition.

Mr Rimell's widow, Jennifer, expressed anger at the circumstances surrounding her husband's death.

"I cannot put into words the loss that we feel. It's hard for us to accept that such a caring, popular man should be killed in this way," she said in a statement issued by West Mercia Police.

The fact he was not a soldier and was there to help makes his death even harder for us to accept
Jennifer Rimell
"We are devastated by the loss of Ian, who was very well liked wherever he went. We were all so very proud of Ian who spent every day of his life trying to help others."

Mrs Rimell said the fact that he was not a soldier and was in Iraq to help the people that lived there "makes it even harder for us to accept".

The statement included words from his three children: Justine, 25, Robert, 22 and Simon, 19.

'Dedicated humanitarian'

Mr Rimell had been clearing a scrapheap filled with ammunition and hidden explosives on the day he died.

He later delivered the scrap metal for use in the rebuilding of a local school.

Mag's executive director, Lou McGrath, said: "Mag's staff are devastated by the loss of their good friend and colleague.

"He was a dedicated humanitarian who worked so well with the local people.

It would have been very clear that these people were not armed, they posed no threat to anyone
Stuart Hughes
Mag patron
"Our thoughts are with the families and our prayers are with Salem as he remains in a serious condition."

He added: "We are further reviewing our areas of operation in Iraq following this attack."

Stuart Hughes, a BBC producer and patron of Mag, who lost a leg to a mine in Iraq earlier this year, told BBC News 24 the incident raised concerns about the safety of those carrying out this vital work.

He said: "What happened shows how volatile the situation is in northern Iraq at the moment.

"Humanitarian vehicles that Mag use are very clearly marked, they have large Mag stickers on and the work Mag do in northern Iraq is very well known.

Honoured

"So there is no possibility this vehicle could have been mistaken for another one.

"It would have been very clear that these people were not armed, they posed no threat to anyone and they were carrying out humanitarian mine clearance work."

Mag, which is based in Manchester, has been in Iraq without interruption for more than a decade and has 700 staff, who are mostly local, in northern Iraq.

It is one of the few international aid agencies that stayed in Iraq throughout the conflict.

Mr Rimell, who was awarded a British Empire Medal, joined Mag in January this year after a distinguished career in mine and bomb disposal.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said that Mr Rimell was the second British civilian to have died in Iraq since the end of conflict.

Freelance journalist Richard Wild, 24, was shot in the head at close range in July by a mystery gunman while on his way to research a report on Iraq's vandalised natural history museum.

The head of home and security at the Royal United Services Institute, Garth Whitty, said Iraq's "security situation was deteriorating".

"People are testing the water to see what they can get away with. Anyone is fair game," he said.

"If you want to prevent reconstruction, then mines are an impediment to reconstruction, so you target the people who work to clear them."


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