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Slain soldier's remains returned to Shandong

Updated: 2015-08-03 07:35
By Ju Chuanjiang and Chen Mengwei in Jinan (China Daily)

Large crowd pays final respects to Chinese man killed in Somalia attack

Nearly 1,000 people in Jinan, Shandong province, paid their respects on Sunday morning to the Chinese embassy guard killed in the Somalia bomb attack a week earlier.

Zhang Nan, 28, who had been in the Chinese military for 11 years, died in the July 26 terrorist attack near the Chinese embassy in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, where he served as a security officer. Fifteen people, some with other countries' embassies, were killed in the attack.

The coffin carrying Zhang's remains was returned to Jinan Yaoqiang International Airport by China Southern Airlines on Saturday night, with another two wounded guards from Somalia. Zhang's funeral was held at the Jinan Funeral Home by the Shandong Armed Policy Corps, where he started his military career.

President Xi Jinping sent condolences via his office to Zhang's family and his injured colleagues right after the incident. At the funeral, wreaths from high-level officials, including Fan Changlong and Xu Qiliang, vice-chairmen of China's Central Military Commission, the top military body in the country, surrounded Zhang, whose body lay in state in the middle of the lobby.

Somalian Ambassador to China Yusuf Hassan Ibrahim stood in silent tribute for three minutes at Zhang's funeral.

On July 31, the Chinese Armed Police Force posthumously conferred on Zhang the Loyal Guard award - one of the highest honors given to ordinary soldiers in the force since 1998.

Jiang Yikang, Party secretary of Shandong province, said at the funeral that Zhang was "an excellent role model who dedicated his life to security services and the construction of elite divisions".

Among the dozens of people waiting in the funeral parlor's courtyard to see Zhang one last time was Zhu Chengrong, 60, whom Zhang has called "Mother Zhu" since they met seven years ago in the army. Zhu held a placard saying, "Nannan, Mama misses you", referring to Zhang by his nickname

"He was a great son. He never said too much about his thoughts, but deep down inside him I could feel he knew what he was doing." Zhu said, tears rolling from her red eyes. "His hometown was in Hebei province. Whenever a festival came, I'd invite him to come over to my place for a reunion."

Zhu said that in 2013, she matched Zhang with a girlfriend, a middle school teacher in Linyi, Shandong, but Zhang soon left for the mission in Somalia. Zhu said she "dared not face the woman" after Zhang was killed.

Wang Qi, 25, who served in the eight-man security team with Zhang in Somalia and was injured in the bombing attack, said Zhang was "the best and the pride" of his team.

"Before the accident, he told me that he wanted to take exams to join the SWAT force when he returned to China, so he could continue serving his motherland with everything he had," Wang said, slowing as he recalled the last words from his brother in arms.

"And he said many times that he wanted to go back to his hometown in Hebei to take care of his elderly parents. He wanted to be a good son," Wang added.

While guarding the embassy in Somalia on April 14, 2015, Zhang was shot in the chest. The bullet missed his heart by a centimeter and almost took his life.

While recovering in the hospital, Zhang wrote a letter to his commander in China, saying he wanted to stay with his teammates and finish the mission, said Wang Aiguo, political commissar of the armed police corps of Shandong.

Saturday marked the anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army in 1927.

Contact the writers at chenmengwei@chinadaily.com.cn and juchuanjiang@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 08/03/2015 page3)

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