Unlawful killing verdict on aid worker’s shooting

Del Singh, centre, who was one of two Britons among the dead after a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, which killed at least 21

Del Singh, centre, who was one of two Britons among the dead after a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, which killed at least 21

First published in News by

A EURO MP candidate was killed by AK47-wielding terrorists while on an aid mission in Afghanistan, an inquest was told.

Dhamender Singh Phangurha, known as Del Singh, was shot twice in the chest and twice in the head on January 17 while at a Kabul restaurant with UN officials.

The 39-year-old, from Hampshire, had been set to stand for election in the South East at last May’s European election.

The Labour Party member was well known in Sussex and had campaigned across the county for many years.

He had also acted as an advisor to Labour Party leader David Miliband and was working as an international aid advisor when he was killed.

The inquest in Winchester, Hampshire, was told he was at the Taverna Du Liban restaurant in the Afghanistan capital with fellow aid workers on January 17 this year. The venue was deemed to be safe, the coroner was told, as it had a steel re-inforced entry gate, security guards and alternative exit points.

Richard Ironside, who was helping to co-ordinate Mr Singh’s visit, told the inquest he heard a loud explosion from the venue at about 6.52pm.

He said: “A call then came in from Del.

“He was saying: ‘I am at the restaurant. I am at the restaurant. I can hear firing in the background’.”

Mr Ironside said he could hear rounds being shot and then the phone went dead.

He tried calling Mr Singh back but only discovered he was dead several hours later.

A post-mortem examination carried out by forensic pathologist Dr Debbie Cook and forensic firearms expert Khaldoun Kabbani revealed the four gunshot wounds which killed him instantly.

Detective Inspector Matthew Potts, from the South East Counter Terrorism Unit, explained the suicide bomber had killed the restaurant guards and blown a hole in the reinforced gate, allowing the gunmen to get inside.

He said local police had yet to establish who was responsible for the attack.

Dishi Kaur, Mr Singh’s younger sister, broke down as she told the coroner she still found her brother’s death hard to talk about but said Mr Singh was a “really great man”.

Recording a verdict of unlawful killing, Central Hampshire Coroner Grahame Short, said: “I suspect they were trying to disrupt the government and election that was then in progress.

“The insurgents themselves were killed but I believe their intention was to kill as many people in the restaurant as they could, themselves knowing that they would die.

“Del was trying to help the government and people of Afghanistan and it is clearly a great tragedy that he died in this way.”

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