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Two British Teachers Killed in Somalia

October 21, 2003

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) _ Two British teachers working for an aid agency in Somaliland were found dead Tuesday after being shot at their apartment at the school, officials said.

Richard G. Eyeington, 62, and his wife, Enid, 61, were killed Monday night in the town of Sheikh, where they worked for SOS Kinderdorf, an Austrian children’s organization, said police in the autonomous region of northern Somalia.

``The whole SOS family worldwide mourns the loss of two invaluable and very committed family members,″ the agency’s Secretary-General, Richard Pichler, said in a statement.

Police said they did not know who killed them or why.

The killings came just weeks after Italian aid worker Annalena Tonelli was shot and killed in Borama, another town in Somaliland.

Somaliland President Dahir Riyaleh Kahin told reporters Tuesday that the killings appeared to be aimed at damaging the image of the breakaway republic, the western half of a former British colony in the Horn of Africa.

``We will spare no efforts in brining the culprits to justice, and we will fight to the end to ensure that such killings are not repeated,″ Kahin said.

Hussein Bulhan, executive director of the Academy for Peace and Development, an organization active in Somaliland, agreed.

``Coming after the killing of the Italian woman, this clearly seems to be a plot to destabilize the country,″ he said.

The British Foreign Office had warned of a ``high general threat″ of terrorism toward Western targets in Somalia.

The couple taught at the secondary school in Sheikh, 550 miles north of Mogadishu, Bulhan said from Hargeisa, the regional capital.

The boarding school was established during British colonial rule and nearly destroyed in fighting launched by former dictator Mohammed Siad Barre in 1989.

SOS Kinderdorf International, also known as SOS Children’s Villages, had worked to rebuild the school, which opened in January about a year after the couple arrived in Somaliland.

Eyeington, a former school headmaster in South Africa, started working with SOS in 1987 in Swaziland, where his wife developed an HIV/AIDS awareness program.

``Everybody here is dumbfounded and outraged. These were people dedicated to Somaliland and to rebuilding the education system,″ Bulhan said. ``There is a shock wave here in this town (Hargeisa), and we are not going to rest until these two killings have been explained.″

British film director Richard Attenborough, a close friend of Eyeington through his work as the chairman of the U.K. Trustees for United World Colleges, said the couple ``lived and died in the belief that children everywhere were entitled to human rights, particularly education.″

Eyeington’s brother, John, said the family was worried when the couple decided to go to Somalia.

``We knew it was dangerous, and we thought he’d done enough already,″ he said. ``But he was determined, and now he’s paid for it with his life.″

Somalia has been beset by chaos and violence, with no central government since Siad Barre was ousted in 1991. Much of the country’s infrastructure has been destroyed, causing Somalis to rely on aid groups and charities for health care.

Police have detained four people in the death of Tonelli, 60. She was shot Oct. 5 outside the hospital she founded to treat tuberculosis patients.

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