Irishman injured in Iraq attack undergoes surgery

A FORMER member of the French Foreign Legion, who survived an attack by Iraqi insurgents in which 22 of his colleagues died, underwent major surgery at Cork University Hospital yesterday.

Padraig O’Keeffe, from Cobh, was travelling in a 29-strong convoy in northern Iraq two weeks ago when it came under mortar and gun attack.

The security man, who is in his 30s, was flown back to Ireland last Monday.

Yesterday, his father, Denis, said Padraig was in a lot of pain and discomfort but in quite good form.

“He has to be operated on for an injury to his face, he has shrapnel lodged in his jawbone and a sizeable wound to the left side of his face. He also has a bullet hole in his right leg. The bullet exited through his thigh,” Mr O’Keeffe said.

He added that his son will also have to go to the South Infirmary next week for surgery for an ear injury.

Mr O’Keeffe, who runs a security firm in Cobh, added that Padraig would require plastic surgery.

“It’s a miracle he’s alive and he’s bearing up okay. The staff at Cork University Hospital have been excellent,” Mr O’Keeffe said.

Padraig had been in Iraq for the past 18 months working with British security firm, the Harte Group. After the attack, the company had posted him missing, presumed dead. Padraig discovered the mistake and was able to notify the company before they broke the news to his family.

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