Ken McGonigle, British former policeman shot dead in Afghanistan
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 9, 2010
A British former policeman has been shot dead in Afghanistan after an insurgent prisoner escaped a prayer room in an army base, grabbed a weapon and opened fire.
Ken McGonigle, 51, from Co Londonderry, was working for a security company training Afghan policemen when he was killed alongside two United States Marines.
The prisoner escaped from a prayer room on Saturday night and got hold of an AK-47 assault rifle at a base in the northern Musa Qala district of Helmand province.
Mr McGonigle’s father said his son had been the killer’s first victim and the two marines had later been killed. The prisoner was then shot dead himself.
“Kenneth was the first man he saw – he opened up and Kenneth hit the ground,” Joe McGonigle said.
A statement for Nato-led forces in Afghanistan said: “The prisoner escaped a room where he was observing prayer time, acquired a rifle and subsequently engaged Afghan and coalition forces.
“The Marines were killed while trying to subdue the prisoner. The prisoner was later shot and killed by small-arms fire. The incident remains under investigation.” Mr McGonigle’s wife, Gail, and the couple’s children, Ruth, Dale, Alex and Jimmy, were being comforted at their home in Magheramason.
He had been training Afghan police for the past three months working with the New Century security company and was due to return home at the start of September.
His father added: “Our hearts are broken. It is an awful thing to happen but there’s nothing we could do about it.
“He wanted to be out there, he loved it.”
He said: “He was very well-liked, he was a fella that if you met him once, you would want to meet him again, and everyone was treated the same. He was very popular here in the neighbourhood, at school and everywhere else.”
New Century which is headed by Tim Collins, the former British Army officer best known for his rallying speech to troops about to invade Iraq, described Mr McGonicle’s death as a “tragic, but isolated incident” and said it was under investigation.
A company statement added: “His presence and contribution will be sorely missed by everyone in the company and at the Nato training mission.
“Ken was a highly professional, deeply competent, well-admired and thoroughly committed colleague who made a material difference through his work.” Musa Qala held a British garrison until it was handed over to the American marines earlier this year.
A spokeswoman for the British embassy in Kabul said: “A British national who was working as a police mentor for the US contractor, New Century Consulting, was tragically shot and killed by an escaped insurgent.
“Two US marines were also killed in the incident.”