Unicef quits town after British aid man killed

MOGADISHU - The United Nations Children's Fund said yesterday it had pulled out its international staff from the southern Somali port of Kismayu after a Somali gunman shot dead a British Unicef worker, writes Karl Maier.

A Belgian priest conducted a memorial service in Kismayu, 250 miles south of the capital Mogadishu, yesterday for Sean Devereux, who was shot dead on Saturday. Representatives from all the aid agencies operating in the town attended the service.

Devereux's murder, the first of a foreigner in Somalia since the arrival of American-led forces last month, underscored the dangerous climate that continues to exist in Somalia despite the arrival of nearly 30,000 foreign troops, the bulk of them American, to protect food-relief convoys. Several Unicef vehicles have been shot at or hijacked in the past week. The United Nations Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, had to cut short his three-hour visit to Somalia yesterday after a crowd of 500 Somalis laid siege to the headquarters of the United Nations Operation in Somalia.

Devereux, 28, of Camberley, Surrey, was the Unicef officer in charge at Kismayu. Unicef officials said they had sent a representative to Kismayu to investigate the murder, which occurred within the Unicef compound.

The motive for the murder remained unknown. The US Marine spokesman, Colonel Fred Peck told reporters yesterday that Devereux was murdered by his own guards after he told them he was cutting their salaries. '(He) told his security force that he was no longer going to pay them inflated wages,' Col Peck said. 'As he was leaving after making this announcement he was shot in the back several times and killed.' But Col Peck retracted that statement, and a Unicef official said he doubted a pay dispute was behind the murder.

'My initial report turned out to be wrong,' Col Peck said. Unicef sources, who asked not to be identified, said Devereux was shot three times in the back of the head and the middle and lower spine by a lone gunman who fled. He appeared to have been singled out as a target, they added.

Devereux, the son of Irish parents, had reportedly been a source for the reports about massacres at the hands of Col Ahmed Omar Jess, the main warlord in the area, which occurred in Kismayu shortly before the arrival of the US marines. A sports enthusiast, Devereux had organised the Movement for Peace and Unity Fun Run in Monrovia, Liberia, in May 1991 which attracted 10,000 participants.

In Britain, tribute was paid yesterday to Devereux, PA reports. His father, Dermot, speaking from the family home in Yateley, Hants, said: 'We have lost someone who was just totally exceptional and of whom we were immensely proud. He did what he did because he wanted to be there. He felt it was just a task of work. He was courageous, but he did not feel any sense of martyrdom.'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot