Director-General travels to Baghdad for staff members' funerals

FAO Director-General Dr Jacques Diouf is travelling to Baghdad to offer his personal support to all those affected by the tragic murder of two staff members.

As the FAO Representation in Baghdad opened on the morning of 28 June, an armed Iraqi national forcibly gained access through the main gate of the FAO building. He was able to obtain an extra weapon from one of the guards assigned by the Government of Iraq, forced his way into the main entrance and held the FAO staff hostage. During the event, it was learned that the intruder was also carrying explosives, and he threatened to blow up the building.

The Security Control Centre of the United Nations Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq (UNOHCI) was able to establish a line of communication by telephone with the intruder. However, in the shooting that followed, two FAO staff members, Mr. Yousuf Abdilleh (Somali national) and Mr. Merwan Nafea Hassan (Iraqi national), lost their lives.

Staff members Dr. Fadil Abbas and Mr. Auday Taha (Iraqi nationals) were seriously wounded in the shooting. Another staff member, Mr. Mohammed Farah (Somali national), was injured when he tried to escape through the roof of the building. Three Iraqi guards were injured in the exchange of fire with the gunman.

The intruder surrendered to the local security forces at 10:55 am. Investigation is underway by local security officials and UN security personnel. The Government of Iraq has also been requested to investigate the incident and provide its findings.

The official funeral ceremony is being organized in Baghdad on Friday 30 June 2000. The Food and Agriculture Organization extends its deepest condolences to the families of the slain men.

30 June 2000

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