Belfast Telegraph

Ex-policeman shot after struggle

A former Northern Ireland policeman was shot dead in Afghanistan after a Muslim prisoner was moved for prayers and overpowered his guards, his father has said.

Father-of-four Ken McGonigle, 51, from Co Londonderry, was working for a security services company when he was gunned down by the inmate after he seized his captors' weapons.

Mr McGonigle was his first target as he ran out of the building. Two US Marines were also killed in the incident in Musa Qala in northern Helmand province.

"Kenneth was the first man he saw - he opened up and Kenneth hit the ground," Joe McGonigle said.

The gunman ran into some buildings and two hand grenades were thrown after him. Then two US Marines entered as he was standing behind the door. "He blew them to smithereens," Mr McGonigle added.

Relatives and friends were comforting the dead man's wife, Gail, and the couple's children, Ruth, Dale, Alex and Jimmy, at their home in Magheramason on Monday. His father, who lives in Trillick, Co Tyrone, said his son was a keen sportsman when he was young, and was particularly passionate about badminton.

Mr McGonigle 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 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."

He said his son had been in Afghanistan for three months but had spent a year and a half with the New Century security services company, which is headed up by former Royal Irish Regiment commander Colonel Tim Collins. Mr McGonigle had also been in Iraq. He was due to return to Northern Ireland at the start of next month.

A statement from New Century said: "Ken was a highly professional, deeply competent, well-admired and thoroughly committed colleague who made a material difference through his work."

The couple's Presbyterian Church minister in Magheramason, Rev David Hillen, said: "Everybody is devastated. It's a terrible tragedy."


From Belfast Telegraph