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IRISH NURSE SEES BOYFRIEND KILLED IN SOMALI BOMB; Blast rips through aid convoy.

Byline: By DARREN BOYLE Crime Reporter

AN Irish nurse battled to save her boyfriend's life after he was blown up by a roadside bomb in Africa.

Elaine Badrian, 29, from Tullamore in Co Offaly, watched in horror as Damien Lehalle was killed on January 28.

Brave Elaine was travelling in a convoy along with her colleagues working for Medecins Sans Frontieres.

She said despite the tragedy, the aid agency should continue their work in troubled Somalia.

The nurse was in a car in front of her boyfriend when the improvised explosive device detonated.

The bomb ripped through the car carrying Mr Lehalle and Kenyan doctor Victor Okumu, 51, on Monday afternoon.

A Somalian journalist was also killed in the blast. A fourth member of the team was injured.

Speaking from Nairobi, Ms Badrian said: "I remember hearing a very loud bang.

"We got out of the car to see what we could do but it was obvious we couldn't do anything at that stage. It happened so quickly. This came out of nowhere.

"There was no lead-up, no indication of hostilities. Despite what has happened, we should not turn our backs on the country.

"There is a very great need there and this should not deter people from addressing that need."

Elaine's parents Noel and Alison were relieved their daughter escaped injury and was now safe.

Alison said yesterday: "I don't really want to speak about it because it is private.

"But Elaine is safe. She is still very shocked by what happened."

The group were travelling through a village of Siyad just north of the southern town of Kismayo when the bomb went off. The city is 500km south of the Somali capital Mogadishu.

The National Union of Somali Journalists said the reporter's name was Hassan Kafi Hared.

The 36-year-old was rushed to hospital for treatment but medics were unable to save his life.

The country is being ripped apart by a civil war with Islamic terrorists battling with Ethiopian supported government forces.

Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the murders.

The United Nations believe that the crisis in Somalia is the worst in the world.

Shortly after the bombing, MSF were forced to close the hospital in Kismayo when they pulled their aid workers out of the region.

Deputy Mayor of Kismayo Mohamed Nur Hassan condemned the terrorists responsible.

He said: "This killing was aimed at the people of Kismayo. Those who committed this murderous act were not targeting the aid workers only but the people of our city.

"We will not rest until we catch them. We will show them us much mercy as they showed us.

"Whoever did this is an enemy of the people."

The city has declared three days of mourning as a result of the attack.

THE FACTS

Years of fighting between rival warlords and an inability to deal with famine and disease have led to the deaths of up to one million people in Somalia.

darren.boyle@irishmirror.ie

CAPTION(S):

HORROR Militia men reach out for slain aid workers in Kismayo on January 28; ORDEAL Aid worker Elaine Badrian; CARING Damien Lehalle during his first mission with in Congo
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 1, 2008
Words:528
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