Security man survives bloody ambush in Iraq

AN IRISH security man who had a miracle escape when 22 of his colleagues were killed in an ambush in Iraq is expected to return home tomorrow.

Padraig O’Keeffe, a former soldier with the French Foreign Legion, was injured when the convoy he was travelling in was attacked by insurgents in northern Iraq last Tuesday.

Last night his father, Denis, said his son had been shot though the thigh, had shrapnel lodged in his jaw and was suffering from an ear injury following a gun battle which lasted over an hour.

“He was in a convoy of 29 people. Of them 22 are missing, believed dead. He is very lucky to be alive,” Denis O’Keeffe said.

He said he was talking to his son, who is in his 30s, yesterday and Padraig said he was hoping to fly out of Baghdad as soon as possible. When he arrives back in Ireland it is expected he will be taken to Cork University Hospital for treatment.

Padraig O’Keeffe, who is from Cobh, Co Cork, was working in Iraq for the past 18 months with British security company, the Harte Group.

He previously worked with his father’s company, Cobh Security, before spending five years with the French Foreign Legion.

“I didn’t hear about it until yesterday when he rang me. He discovered that he was listed as missing following the ambush and he decided to contact me himself. Fortunately, in the meantime, the company hadn’t told me he was posted missing,” his father said.

He said he was extremely fortunate not to have been killed.

“Obviously he will need medical attention when he gets home. The other guys, God bless them, won’t have the opportunity to make a recovery,” Denis O’Keeffe said.

Asked whether he would urge his son not to return to Iraq, Mr O’Keeffe said: “It’s up to him to make his own mind up as to if he wants to go back there.”

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