FRIENDS, comrades and senior politicians have paid their respects to Birmingham soldier Mark Quinsey - who was killed in Northern Ireland at the weekend.
The soldier, who lived in Yardley Wood, was shot dead by terrorists outside his County Antrim barracks. Sapper Patrick Azimkar was also killed by the hail of bullets - which wounded four other people. The Real IRA has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Sapper Quinsey, aged 23, was described by the Ministry of Defence as a “charismatic and affable young soldier”. He had joined the Army at 19 and had been due to fly to Afghanistan hours before the shooting took place. He recently passed his class 1 electricians’ course with flying colours.
Lieutenant Colonel Roger Lewis, commanding officer of 38 Engineer Regiment, said: “He was hugely passionate about his trade and eager to put his new qualifications to good use in Afghanistan. We were expecting him to play a vital role maintaining the living and working conditions of British soldiers serving in southern Afghanistan. Tragically he has been denied this opportunity.
“This has been a traumatic time and the regiment and I are devastated to have lost such a fine and promising soldier. It is with greatest sympathy that I extend my sincere and heartfelt condolences to Mark’s family and friends for their irreplaceable loss.”
And hundreds more tributes have appeared on social networking website Facebook - groups set up to honour Sappers Quinsey and Azimkar have already attracted thousands of members.