British man among two UN workers shot dead while on anti-piracy mission to Somalia

Foreign Office confirmed one of the men was British

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The Independent Online

A British man and his colleague have been shot dead at an airport in Somalia where they were taking part in a UN anti-piracy mission.

The UK Foreign Office (FCO) confirmed that one of the men was British and that the shooting had taken place today, but have not disclosed any further details about his identity or that of the other worker.

A spokesperson said the FCO “stands ready to provide consular assistance to the family”.

Aleem Siddique, a spokesperson for the UN's mission in Somalia, confirmed that the two men were international consultants working for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The UN said they were shot by “unknown gunmen” at Galkayo Airport, Puntland, Somalia on Monday. Airport officials reportedly said that an attacker was dressed in a police uniform, and there were conflicting reports as to whether the men were about to board or had just disembarked from a plane.

Security at the airport was reportedly particularly tight at the time as officials braced for the arrival of the president of Puntland, a semi-autonomous region, the Telegraph reported.

Galkayo is located in central Somalia, not far from some of the country's most formidable pirate strongholds.

Nicholas Kay, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, condemned what he described as the “brutal murders”.

He said: “Our UN colleagues were working in support of the Somali people’s aspiration for a peaceful and stable future. There can be no justification for such a callous attack.

“I call on the authorities to conduct a full investigation immediately and bring the perpetrators to justice without delay.

“I offer my sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims. The United Nations in Somalia remains committed to continuing our vital support to the Somali people as they emerge from decades of conflict.”

The UN has spent billions of dollars in Somalia since the outbreak of civil war in 1991, but it has often been targeted by warring clan factions and most recently by al-Qa'ida-aligned Islamist group al-Shabaab.

Gunmen in the capital Mogadishu used a car bomb to blow a hole in the UN compound's wall last June and 22 people, including UN staff, were killed in the ensuing firefight.

Al-Shabaab in February this year also attacked a UN convoy with a remote-controlled bomb, killing at least seven Somalis. No UN staff were hurt in that incident.