A video depicting the brutal death in Iraq of an Irish-born aid worker appears to confirm the worst.
Mrs Hassan was abducted by an unknown group in Baghdad on October 19th and is thought to have been held in Fallujah until a US assault on the city earlier this month.
Her family in Dublin and London is said to be broken-hearted at the development. Mrs Hassan’s Iraqi husband has asked for the return of her body to let her “rest in peace”.
Her employer, the aid agency Care International, for who she worked for over ten years, said Ms Hassan was an extraordinary woman who dedicated her life to the poor and disadvantaged in Iraq, particularly to children.
The British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, the President, Mrs McAleese, and the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, led the tributes to the “friend of the Arab world” who had Irish, British and Iraqi nationality.
Mrs McAleese said she was greatly saddened by the reports of Ms Hassan’s execution, while the Taoiseach said her kidnappers stood condemned “by everyone throughout the entire international community.”
Mr Blair sent his sympathy to her family, saying he shared their abhorrence at her treatment after the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera said it had a copy of the videotape for several days showing a militant firing a pistol into the back of the head of a blindfolded woman wearing an orange jumpsuit.
The Labour Party’s foreign affairs spokesman, Mr Michael D. Higgins, said it now appeared she had been killed, and said this was “an appalling action . . . No cause is served by it. How could it? Margaret Hassan was somebody who gave her life to the most vulnerable people of Iraq, in the worst of times, during the sanctions, before the war, right through the most recent war and into the present period.”
Meanwhile, an Irish woman remains hostage in Afghanistan as her captors demand a ransom.
Annetta Flanigan, from County Armagh, was one of three UN workers seized at gunpoint in Kabul on October 28 after helping organise the country’s election.
Two Afghan government officials said today that talks were bogged down over demands for a seven-figure ransom.
The kidnappers released a video of the hostages three days after armed men forced them from their clearly marked UN vehicle.
A week ago, at least two of the hostages phoned home to say they were all right, but there has been no evidence of their condition since.