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Ex-soldier 'died a hero' as Taliban massacred diners in Kabul

By Ruth Lumley

A suicide bomber blew the steel door off a Kabul restaurant deemed safe for Westerners, allowing two gunmen inside to slaughter 21 diners including a former soldier from Northern Ireland, an inquest has heard.

Details of the horrific attack in Afghanistan were revealed at the inquest of Labour MEP candidate, Dhamender Singh Phangurha, in England.

Simon Chase, a former British soldier from Co Londonderry, was also killed in the Taliban attack on a restaurant in Kabul, on January 17. Mr Chase, who had lived in Limavady for more than 20 years, had been working in close protection when he was gunned down with 20 others.

Among those killed were senior UN officials, Afghan dignitaries, restaurant staff and Mr Phangurha, better known as Del Singh.

Mr Singh's inquest in Winchester, Hampshire, was told that the Taverna Du Liban restaurant was frequently used by foreigners as it was considered a safe and secure place.

Richard Ironside, a manager with aid agency Tour Afghanistan, said the Taverna Du Liban was deemed a safe place because it had a steel reinforced entry gate, security guards, people entering would be searched and there were also alternative exit points.

But the explosion created by the suicide bomber killed the security guards at the entrance and breached the steel door, allowing two terrorists carrying AK-47 rifles to enter the premises and shoot indiscriminately at staff and customers, the inquest heard.

The coroner ruled Mr Singh (39) from Southampton had been unlawfully killed.

Mr Chase was hailed as a hero by the Afghan government after it emerged that he had shot dead one of the terrorists.

An investigation by the Afghan authorities revealed that Mr Chase grabbed his gun and returned fire at the attackers in a desperate bid to save lives.

According to a senior Afghan official, Mr Chase killed the first gunman before being shot dead by the second. "He was a real hero," General Ayoub Salangi, the deputy interior minister, said.

The former soldier was buried in Limavady, where he lived with his partner and his two sons.

Belfast Telegraph


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