A British TV journalist has been murdered in Ghana. Syed Taalay Ahmed, 31, was working for Muslim Television Ahmadiyaa International (MTA) News when he was killed, the station said.
According to local news reports, Ahmed, who was brought up in Hartlepool, was travelling with a colleague and a driver when they were ambushed and robbed near the town of Tamale, in the north of the country, on 23 August.
The reports said armed men emerged from the bush and opened fire on the Toyota vehicle, taking cash and mobile phones.
Married father-of-two Ahmed was treated a local clinic before being taken to hospital in Tamale. His colleague was also shot but survived.
His friend and colleague at MTA News, Nosherwan Rashid, said Ahmed was in West Africa filming a documentary in Ghana, Sierra Leone and The Gambia about the positive of impact of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the region.
Rashid said the planned five-week-long trip was the culmination of a year of planning.
He said: “He really loved what he was doing.
“He died in the cause of what he loved and serving his religion, which he loved the most.
“As a person he was really humble, encouraging, helpful, cheerful. He was like the life of our department.”
Rashid said Ahmed also brought his cheerful personality to his football.
“He used to bring life to the football pitch,” he said.
“If he was missing, the game would be totally different. There would be no joy. He would bring his presence and his character to the pitch”.
Rashid said Ahmed had worked for MTA International for about seven years, based in London after moving from the north-east of England. He was brought up in Hartlepool and went to university in Sunderland.
He was married with a five year son and a daughter who is approaching two years old.
Rashid said: “He knew that Islam was a religion of peace harmony and nothing negative. He tried to portray this image of Islam.”
He said: “He was a really great person. He was an example to me.
“Whether he was working on a documentary, or whether he was helping others with editing or scripting, he was always so devoted. “I will miss him a lot.”
In a press release, Ghana Police said two men thought to be involved in the murder and other incidents were killed by officers during an exchange of gunfire in the days after the tragedy. It said four others were arrested.
In a statement, MTA News said: “As many are now aware, earlier this week a most devoted and sincere member of our MTA News team, Syed Taalay Ahmed sahib, lost his life whilst travelling abroad in Ghana on duty in the service of Islam.
“He was a much loved member of the MTA team and produced a series of faith inspiring documentaries and programmes.
“We will miss him every day and strive to build up on the great work he did.”
Ahmed was also remembered by former teammates at Hartlepool Cricket Club.
Director of coaching and 4th XI captain Chris Smith said: “Off the field, Taalay always seemed to be filled with life and joy.
“He had an infectious smile and was always happy to chat with anyone about pretty much anything, all the while keeping an eye on the cricket.
“Although no longer living in the North East, Taalay still showed a keen interest in what was going on at Park Drive. He will be truly missed”.
The club said Ahmed was the son of former 2nd XI Captain, Hashim Ahmed and described how he came through the junior ranks before going on to represent the 2nd and 3rd XIs.
It said: “A talented batsman, Taalay scored over a 1,000 runs with a best of 88. During his time at Hartlepool he also played for Hartlepool Power Station Cricket Club, before moving to Wolviston Cricket Club following university.”
The club said: “Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this incredibly sad time.”