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Villagers honour British missionary who died after being kidnapped in Nigeria


By Colin Freeman

"Residents of an impoverished Nigerian village have held a parade to honour a British missionary who died after being kidnapped from the eye clinic he had set up in their neighbourhood.

Dressed in black,hundreds of villagers from Enokhora,a remote community in Nigeria's southern Delta region,turned out to mourn the death of Surrey optician Ian Squire,57,who was kidnapped by a criminal gang last month.

Three other British missionaries who were held with him were freed last week, but Mr Squire is understood to have died after being unable to access medication for an asthma condition.

His death has brought both sadness and anger among the local community,who now face the closure of the clinic that the missionaries ran,one of the few health facilities in the area.

One placard held up by the demonstrators read:"Ian,you live,you never die,because we cherish you in our hearts."

Local TV news reports also showed footage of the missionaries' clinic - now padlocked - and their nearby living quarters,where the locks on the doors had been smashed open when the kidnappers struck just after midnight on October 13.

One neighbour who is thought to have worked with the missionaries,said: "All of a sudden in the night,around 12:45am, one of my friends came to me and said: 'Wake up.They have stolen our white men!"

Meanwhile,a Nigerian newspaper quoted one local,Comrade Michael Ogobiri,as saying that the missionaries had turned down offers of guards,despite separate reports that they had already faced one previous abduction attempt.

“We had set up a local vigilante for them before,but they rejected it because they said they believed in God and they’re missionaries," Mr Ogobiri told the Nigerian Tribune."We never believed such could happen.They’ve been here since 2007."

Villagers also called on local security forces to step up their hunt for the leader of the kidnapping gang,known locally as the Karowei.Some have already been arrested or killed.

One unidentified community leader said: "These people have come all the way from the UK to help us and because of the kidnapping by the Karowei,this led to the death of Doctor Ian.

"We want to the world to see that we are not happy with the activities of this gang, and to appeal to the federal government to make sure that the Karowei should be brought to book.The loss of Doctor Ian has led to the closure of this clinic."
 
One of the suspected kidnappers died during a shoot-out with police in the nearby town of Amukpe near Sapele, north of the regional capital Warri,on Wednesday.A policeman,Sanusi Lanre, also died from wounds sustained in the operation,which came after the arrest of two other members of the gang in Warri earlier that day.

Mr Squire,who ran his own optician business,had been founder and chairman of the Christian charity Mission for Vision since 2003.

He was kidnapped along with former Cambridgeshire GP David Donovan and his wife Shirley,both 57,and Alanna Carson,of Fife. Mr Squire had teamed up in 2013 with the Donovans’ own New Foundations health charity.

The Donovans and Ms Carson have since returned to the UK,and have thus far declined to comment about their ordeal.

-The Telegraph - UK

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