Brothers accused of gun killing of woman who sought safety in UK

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The Independent Online

Zainab Kalokoh, who was killed when a masked gang raided a community hall in Peckham, south London, fled Sierra Leone 11 years ago at the height of its civil war. She had just been handed the six-month old baby, Adama Yalie, when she was shot in the head at point-blank range. The gang then allegedly stole guests' mobile phones, bags and wine before fleeing.

Two brothers, aged 14 and 16, were remanded in custody yesterday after appearing in court charged with her murder.

The 14-year-old, who lives in Peckham, and the older youth, from New Cross, south-east London, are also accused of robbery.

Ms Kalokoh's estranged husband, Alieu Kargbo, 45, a teaching assistant, told the London Evening Standard: "Zainab thought she would be free from danger and violence in London.

"She came here for a better life but now she is dead. I can't believe it."

One of her two children, Idris, nine, told of his despair. "I miss my mother very much," he said. "I want the police to catch those who hurt her."

Idris, who goes to school in Tower Hamlets, east London, is being cared for by an aunt. His sister, Isha, 13, lives with her grandparents in Sierra Leone.

Witnesses to the shooting, in front of a gathering of 100 friends and family at the party on the Wood Dene Estate, said they believed Ms Kalokoh was deliberately singled out. Her uncle, Alim Mackie, described her as a "warm, loving and caring woman", but he said he believed she was specifically targeted in the attack.

Detective Chief Inspector Ashley Sharp, of the Metropolitan Police's Operation Trident team, which specialises in gun crime within the black community, described the shooting as "an outrageous intrusion into a family gathering".

The brothers will appear at Camberwell Green youth court on 7 September.

The boys, who cannot be identified , were flanked by security guards as they entered the court. The 16-year-old, dressed casually in a black sweatshirt and black jeans, and the younger boy, dressed in a black and white sweatshirt and grey trousers, confirmed their names and addresses.

A bail application for the older boy was denied.