A BRITISH missionary has died after being kidnapped in the Niger Delta, the Foreign Office has confirmed, as it announced the negotiated release of three of his colleagues.
Ian Squire, an optician from Shepperton, in Surrey, had been abducted alongside three others from the New Foundations Christian medical charity, which is based in the Delta. The four were seized by militants during a raid in the early hours of 13 October.
No details of Mr Squire’s death have been released by the Foreign Office.
Mr Squire, 57, and fellow optician Alanna Carson from Leven, Fife, had been training local people to offer sight tests and dispense prescription spectacles.
Mr Squire founded a charity, Mission for Vision, in 2003 to offer sight tests and glasses in remote regions of the developing world, predominately Africa. He had developed a solar-powered grinding machine to enable the cutting of lenses in remote areas, and, for several years, had been working with the Christian medical charity New Foundations, running a vision centre which also offered surgery for cataracts.
The founder of New Foundations, Dr David Donovan, a GP from Cambridge, and his wife Shirley were the other two Britons who were abducted. The three released hostages are now back in the UK.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said that he was praying for Mr Squire’s family and friends. “Ian, an optician, was in Nigeria providing free vital medical aid to people. We pray for his family and friends as they come to terms with his death, and for the three other hostages who will have to deal with the mental and physical scars they suffered while in captivity.
“We pray for the areas in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria where there are high levels of crime and tension — for peace, restoration, and reconciliation, and God’s kingdom to come in those communities and across all of Africa.”
A statement released by the Foreign Office on behalf of the families said: “Alanna, Ian, David, and Shirley were kidnapped in Nigeria some three weeks ago. We are grateful for the support received by the British High Commission and help from the Nigerian authorities in negotiating their release.
“We are delighted and relieved that Alanna, David, and Shirley have returned home safely. Our thoughts are now with the family and friends of Ian as we come to terms with his sad death.”
The Vicar of St Mary’s, Sunbury-on-Thames, the Revd Andrew Downes, said that although Mr Squire was not a regular worshipper at his church, he was “a very much loved Christian here in our corner of God’s world by the river, who travelled regularly to Africa to make a difference and to help to improve the eyesight of those who have little or no money. A man of deep faith, he died as he lived: trying to make a difference and doing his best to help people less fortunate than himself.”
Nigeria has one of the highest rates of kidnapping in the world, with many carried out for money. The Foreign Office advises Britons to stay away from the Niger Delta region.