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Compass – A British aid worker died of bullet wounds to the chest and neck last weekend after his jeep was ambushed by gunmen in Sudan near the Ugandan border. Twenty militants attacked Collin Lee, his wife Hedwig Unrau Lee, and their Sudanese driver, Karaba Juma, on Saturday (November 5) as they traveled to the southern Sudanese town of Yei from Uganda .

Juma tried to reverse the jeep in an attempt to avoid a roadblock that the gunmen had constructed, Mary Githiomi, Sudan liaison officer with International Aid Services (IAS), told Compass from Nairobi . But Juma was forced to halt the vehicle when the militants opened fire, wounding Lee and hitting the driver in the arm.

Despite threats from the gunmen that she would be burned alive inside the jeep, Hedwig Lee refused to leave her bleeding husband, who was strapped into the passenger seat. Convincing the militants to spare her husband’s life, she pulled him from the passenger seat of the vehicle before it was set ablaze.

After the gunmen retreated into the bush, the 35-year-old woman helped her husband make the hour-long trek to the village of Morobo , Githiomi said. The couple was then taken to Yei Hospital , where Lee died of his wounds that night, six hours after the incident.

“Collin was a man after God’s own heart,” his friend and IAS colleague, Elias Kamau, told Compass. “He felt that he had a calling from God, and he had a real sense of urgency to accomplish that goal. His death is a shock to us as an organization.”

Lee, 57, had worked with IAS for less than two years; along with his wife, he did trauma counseling for war victims in Somalia , Sudan , Ethiopia and Uganda .

“We suspect that this is the work of the LRA [Lord’s Resistance Army], but we cannot confirm this,” Githiomi told Compass.

Army spokesman Capt. Paddy Ankunda confirmed to Agence France Presse on Monday that the Ugandan army held the LRA responsible for the attack. He said that the rebels shot on the IAS workers after realizing that they were being pursued by the Ugandan and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) armies.

Sudan has agreed to cooperate with Uganda in carrying out joint operations against the LRA, which originates in Uganda but has bases in southern Sudan .

The Lees’ work in trauma counseling was especially strategic in northern Uganda , where attacks by the LRA over the past two decades have displaced more than 1.5 million people. Practically the entire rural population has left home to take refuge in large cities.

Especially affected are children, 25,000 of whom have been kidnapped by the LRA for use as soldiers, porters and sex slaves.

As many as 50,000 children and teenagers, known as “night commuters,” avoid abduction by walking up to 10 miles every day to sleep in the security of large towns.

Today a group of 50 international aid agencies demanded that the United Nations Security Council protect Ugandans from rebel attacks, which claim the lives of 1,000 people each week, BBC reported.

Based on an LRA letter the British Foreign office obtained that had been distributed to locals in northern Uganda , the office told Reuters that the LRA may now be targeting foreigners. Reuters reported that experts believe the rebels may be reacting to the International Criminal Court (ICC). On October 14 the ICC announced that it had issued its first arrest warrants for the LRA leadership, including Joseph Kony, who claims to receive instruction from God.

Over the past two weeks, the LRA has killed four other foreign aid workers and injured four others in separate attacks, causing several international aid agencies to consider curtailing their activities in the region.

Yesterday the rebel group also killed a British tourist and kidnapped a New Zealander and Ugandan who were later rescued, BBC reported.

Hedwig Lee, a Paraguayan national of German background, has worked off and on with IAS since 2000. She brought her husband into contact with the organization before they were married in his native Bermuda last year.

According to Githiomi of IAS, Hedwig Lee, who is six months pregnant, has been “very strong” during the days since her husband’s death. She is recovering in Kampala . This week the widow plans to return to Bermuda , where her husband’s body is being sent for burial.