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Mass for slain aid worker Margaret Hassan

Irish-born British aid worker Margaret Hassan, who is believed to have been killed by her captors in Iraq, was remembered last night Australian time at a special mass in a Catholic church in Kenmare in the southwest of Ireland.

The Australian reports that Ms Hassan's sister Geraldine Riney lives in the area.

Local priest Fr Edmund Corridan said that since her abduction last month in Baghdad, a candle had been lit each day in Kenmare church and she had been prayed for in all church ceremonies.

"We had been hoping and praying she would be released," Fr Corridan said. "The town is very upset. It has been most distressing for everyone."

"She was such a dedicated worker on behalf of the Iraqi people," he added. "She could have stayed out of it but she deliberately continued with her work. She is an indescribable loss."

Al-Jazeera television said yesterday that it had received a video showing "an armed man shooting at a blind-folded woman, who appears to be Margaret Hassan".

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said it was believed the woman killed in the video was Mrs Hassan, 59, head of CARE International's Iraq operations, who was seized in Baghdad on 19 October while on her way to work.

Mrs Hassan, who was married to an Iraqi, held British, Irish and Iraqi citizenship. Her body has yet to be found.

Independent Catholic News says British Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has expressed his horror and shame following yesterday's news of her murder.

Speaking on BBC television, he described Ms Hassan as "a martyr for truth, generosity and service to others."

The Cardinal said he had visited her sisters in Dublin last week and had spoken with one of her sisters after the news broke.

"I feel a great sense of shame and deep deep distress that this could have happened" he said. "I feel completely at one with my Muslem colleagues who are totally appalled at this violence which is so completely at odds with the Islamic precepts of mercy and justice."

The Cardinal said: "We must do all we can to help the Iraqi people find stability and peace."

(Photo credit: Michael Moore/CARE Australia)

Hassan service held in Ireland (The Australian 18/11/04)
Margaret Hassan: 'a martyr for truth, generosity and service to others' (Independent Catholic News 17/11/04)

Family, colleagues mourn Hassan (Canadian Press 17/11/04)
Margaret Hassan lived for Iraq . . . but died horribly at the hands of Iraqi kidnappers (Irish Independent 17/11/04)
Heartbroken sister is consoled by family after grim news (Irish Independent 17/11/04)
World leaders condemn Hassan's 'slaying' (Sydney Morning Herald 18/11/04)
CARE profoundly saddened by the apparent death of Mrs. Margaret Hassan (CARE Australia 17/11/04)

18 Nov 2004