School security guards are among ten arrested in Somaliland over murder of British teachers

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The Independent Online

Police investigating the murders of two British teachers in Somaliland have arrested a number of security guards working at their school.

The security staff were among 10 people detained in connection with the murder of Richard Eyeington and his wife Enid who were shot dead last Monday on the grounds of a school in the east of the breakaway republic.

Dahir Riyaleh Kahin, president of Somaliland, revealed that the majority of those arrested worked as security guards at the Sheikh Secondary School where Mr Eyeington was headmaster.

The arrests came only days after Mr Kahin offered a £6,000 reward for information leading to the capture killers. Foreigners without permits were also ordered to leave within 45 days as part of a new security crackdown.

Mr Eyeington and his wife, from Pelton Fell, County Durham, were killed after more than three decades teaching in Africa. Mr Eyeington had formerly been headmaster at a multi-racial boarding school in Swaziland, whose alumni include Nelson Mandela's children and the actor Richard E Grant.

The couple moved to Somaliland a year ago to assist with the re-opening of the school, which they feared would otherwise be abandoned. It was to be their last mission before retirement.

Gunmen shot the pair dead through the window of their flat in Sheikh, 550 miles north of the Somalian capital Mogadishu, while they were watching television.

Following their death, tributes arrived from former pupils, colleagues and associates, including Lord Richard Attenborough, the film maker, who described them as "the most inspirational couple I have ever met".

The murder of the British couple was the second fatal attack on Westerners in two weeks in Somalia's self-declared republic, prompting fears of an Islamic terror campaign in a country linked to the al-Qa'ida network.

Two weeks earlier, Annalena Tonelli, an aid worker from Italy, was shot dead in the grounds of a hospital she operated 78 miles northwest of the capital Hargeisa.

Somaliland set up its own administration after breaking away from the rest of Somalia when the Horn of Africa nation descended into chaos after President Mohammed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.

The region has remained relatively peaceful, while clan-based fighting has swept the centre and south of Somalia, and it has its own police force, but has not succeeded in gaining international recognition.

Last week, the United Nations announced that it was restricting its staff to the region's capital Hargeisa following the recent spate of violence against Westerners.

In a statement, the Somalia Aid Co-ordination Body, which co-ordinates activities of donors, UN agencies and non-governmental organisations working in Somalia, said the killings indicated "a serious deterioration in security focused on international aid workers".

The Foreign Office advises against all travel to southern Somalia and to the Sool and Sanaag parts of Somaliland.