Tributes paid to Red Cross worker


Tributes were paid today to a "committed" Red Cross worker who died after being attacked on Christmas Day while on holiday in Sri Lanka.

Khuram Shaikh, 32, from Manchester, a physiotherapist working for the International Red Cross in the Middle East, was killed in the tourist resort of Tangalle.

Unmarried Mr Shaikh was the manager of the Red Cross's physical rehabilitation programme in Gaza, providing prosthetics for people who have lost limbs, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

A spokeswoman for the Jerusalem office of the ICRC said the organisation was "grieved".

She said: "We do confirm he was a work colleague in Gaza. He was a physiotherapist and the manager of our physical rehabilitation project.

"He went on holiday to Sri Lanka with a colleague and unfortunately this has happened.

"We are deeply shocked and the International Committee of the Red Cross is grieved by the loss.

"He was a very committed member of the Red Cross team in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem."

Reports claimed Mr Shaikh and Russian colleague Victoria Alexandrovna, 23, were attacked following an argument with a man at a hotel.

A post-mortem examination showed he had been attacked with a sharp weapon and shot, according to reports.

Four men have been arrested in connection with the incident, including Sampath Chandra Pushpa Vidanapathirana, 24, the chairman of Tangalle village council, Sri Lankan police told the BBC.

The ICRC spokeswoman added: "We cannot give any specific details of the circumstances of what happened because the criminal investigation is taking place.

"We are in contact with the local authorities and will follow it up with them."

She added that the organisation is making efforts to support Mr Shaikh's parents in Manchester and his colleagues in Gaza.

There are also efforts under way to assist the family of Ms Alexandrovna, who remains in intensive care in Sri Lanka after suffering "serious injuries".

Tangalle is a popular tourist destination about 100 miles south of the capital Colombo.

The Foreign Office said: "Next of kin have been informed and we are providing consular assistance."