Anger and heartbreak over former soldier's death in Kabul bomb
The family of a man from Northern Ireland killed in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan have been left devastated and heartbroken, a close friend has said.
Father-of-two Simon Chase was among 21 victims of a Taliban bomb and gun attack on a restaurant in a heavily-populated area of central Kabul on Friday night.
The former soldier was on a private security detail with the EU police mission Eupol when the attack occurred.
Two men opened fire on Taverna du Liban restaurant, popular with foreigners and affluent Afghans, while another man detonated an explosive at its heavily fortified entrance. Armed security forces arrived on the scene and killed the gunmen.
The dead included the head of the International Monetary Fund in Afghanistan and three UN staff.
Mr Chase left for Afghanistan at the beginning of December for 10 weeks and was due to return home next month. It is believed he died while attempting to save others from the ambush.
Simon, known as Si, was originally from Liverpool.
But after service with the Cheshire and the Royal Irish regiments, he had made Limavady his home for the past 20 years with fiancee Norma McDowell and their sons aged 15 and six.
He has been described as an adopted son of the town.
In his Anderson Park home in the town on Sunday, his family and close friends gathered to remember Si. A family member asked for the grieving relatives to be left in peace and for their privacy to be respected.
Mr Chase was a popular man in the town. He was a coach at Limavady Amateur Boxing Club and worked as a doorman at the Corner Bar and in Sweet Nightclub.
One of his best friends said: "He was a man who loved his family and they are totally devastated by this. They are angry and heartbroken and need the time and space to grieve."
On Sunday, fiancee Norma posted a picture of her long-term partner on her Facebook page and tributes flooded in.
By Sunday evening more than 130 people had 'liked' the post, while nearly 50 had commented on it.
The Royal British Legion flew the Union flag at the war memorial at half mast.
In a statement, the local branch said: "It is with great sadness we learned of the death of Simon.
"Our condolences go to his partner, Norma, and his two sons as well as to his wider family circle and his regimental comrades.
"We will remember him."
Twenty-one people died in the bomb blast in the popular Lebanese restaurant on Friday night in central Kabul.
Of those killed, 13 were foreigners from Canada, Denmark, Russia, Lebanon, Pakistan, the US and the UK.
Del Singh, a Labour MEP candidate for the South East of England, was the other UK national to die in the attack.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility.