The British government yesterday reacted with shock and disgust to the murder of Brig Stephen Saunders, condemning the shooting as a "brutal and senseless" act of terrorism.
The Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, who spoke by telephone to Brig Saunders's widow in Athens, described the murder as "an act of terrorism which is as contemptible as it is senseless". Mr Blair was also in contact with the Greek Prime Minister, Mr Kostas Simitis, and it was confirmed the British authorities are working closely with their Greek counterparts in the investigation.
The Foreign Secretary, Mr Robin Cook, also condemned the murder, saying he was "appalled and deeply saddened" to hear of Brig Saunders's death. "It was a senseless attack on a true professional who was simply doing his duty," Mr Cook said.
Brig Saunders (55) joined the British army in 1965 and was commissioned into the Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment two years later. During his military career he served in many countries including, Germany, Northern Ireland, with the United Nations in Cyprus, and on being promoted to brigadier last year, he was appointed as military attache to the British embassy in Athens.
The Ministry of Defence said yesterday his role in Athens involved liaising with the Greek military on procurement and other military issues.
Brig Saunders was awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service during a posting to Northern Ireland.