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Thousands attend requiem Mass for murdered aid worker Margaret Hassan

More than 2,000 people joined the family of murdered aid worker Margaret Hassanfor a requiem Mass in Westminster Cathedral, London yesterday.

The Mass was led by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster and England's most senior Roman Catholic, who again described Mrs Hassan as a martyr.

The Irish-born director of CARE International in Iraq was kidnapped by gunmen in October on her way to work in Baghdad. Despite a lack of physical evidence, it is believed that the 59-year-old was shot after being forced to plead for her life in several harrowing television appearances.

In the service, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said: "The word martyr means witness. Margaret witnessed, in both her life and her death, to the act of loving. She was a peacemaker in a time of seemingly endless wars. She hungered and thirsted for justice for the Iraqi people. She was persecuted, brutally slain, because she was working in the cause of right."

The mourners included Mrs Hassan's sisters Deirdre, Geraldine and Kathryn, and her brother Michael. Mrs Hassan's family said: "Margaret was against war and sanctions. She tried to make a difference. She was a force for good. Children, the sick and poor were her concern. Those without food and clean water. Margaret gave her life for the vulnerable and disadvantaged."