The family of a Labour Party candidate for the European parliament who died in a suicide attack in Kabul have paid tribute to his dedication to bring peace to troubled parts of the world.
Dharmender Singh Phangurha, better known as Del Singh, 39, was one of two Britons killed in the devastating attacking at a restaurant in Kabul on Friday.
The attack, for which the Taliban quickly claimed responsibility, left 21 people dead, including senior UN officials, Afghan dignitaries and restaurant staff. Simon Chase, a former British soldier originally from Northern Ireland was also killed.
Singh, from Southampton, was due to stand for the South East in May’s European elections and was working as an international adviser supporting the Afghan budget department in Kabul at the time of the blast.
His family told the Sunday Telegraph he was “funny, big-hearted and humble”. His partner, Komal Adris, 35, said he had advised the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, on Israeli and Palestinian policy and travelled regularly to Afghanistan.
She said: “He loved the country. He’s been going there on and off for around six years. He kept going back to all these conflict areas because he loved his work and wanted to see a more peaceful world.”
Singh’s sister, Dishi Phangurha, 34, told the Telegraph he had spoken to his family on Thursday, saying: “He was so optimistic so there was no suggestion something like this was about to happen. It’s a heavily guarded restaurant.”
Tributes poured in for Singh on Saturday, with Miliband saying that through 10 years of development work in countries such as Afghanistan, Kosovo, Sudan and Sierra Leone, he had “dedicated his life to working with people across the world who needed his support”.
Anneliese Dodds, a fellow MEP candidate for the South East, told the Sunday Times she had exchanged emails with him just a few days ago. She told the newspaper: “Del was such as warm and friendly person with an infectious sense of humour.
Even though we were all competing with one another, everyone got on with him and he enlivened all the hustings.”
Andrew Pope, a Labour councillor in Southampton who became friends with Singh during the general election campaign in 2010, said he died doing what he believed in.
He told BBC Breakfast: “We talked about it [the dangers of Kabul]. We joked about it from time to time, but sometimes I said to him, quite seriously, ‘you do realise the dangers’, and he tried to minimise the dangers with me and with other colleagues and friends and family.
“But I think he did realise the dangers and we discussed a situation exactly like today, sadly, and sadly we won’t see him again.”
The attack occurred at the Taverna du Liban Lebanese restaurant, which is popular with tourists and westerners. The suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside the gate of the heavily fortified restaurant, the deputy interior minister Mohammad Ayoub Salangi said.
Two gunmen entered the restaurant and started shooting at people inside. It is believed they were eventually shot dead by security forces when they arrived at the scene.