Gujarat town grieves for US martyr in Iraq
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Gujarat town grieves for US martyr in Iraq

The Gujarat-based family of Kathiriya is in shock over the death of their son, who was fighting for the US army.

india Updated: Aug 31, 2005 11:50 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

The Gujarat-based family of Hatim Kathiriya is in shock over the death of the 23-year-old soldier, who was fighting for the US army, in a rocket attack in Baghdad.

Hatim joined the US army in 2003 to secure American citizenship. His death has left his family members completely stunned.

"It was like any other job. He joined the US Army, and we did not see any danger in this job," Hatim's father Siraj Abdul Ali Kathiria said.

The family last week received an email message about Hatim's death Aug 22. The message said the US soldier's body would be brought for last rites to Dahod, about 200 km from here, on Sep 2.

Army sources intimated the family that it was Hatim's last wish to be buried in his native place and they were honouring it.

Hatim's body is currently being kept at an army base near Washington DC for completing the formalities, including an army ceremonial later this week.

The body was flown to Washington from Baghdad via Kuwait and Germany.

"I had spoken to him on Aug 21. He asked me to pray for him......but we never knew his life was at risk," said Hatim's distraught younger sister Habiba.

Hatim's body will be accompanied by his wife Esther Perez and a senior army official.

His Bohra community was surprised as the news that he had married in the US came a day after reports of his death.

"I was told that he had married a foreigner there. But I had not heard anything about it from my relatives there," said Siraj Ali.

Hatim's wife is reported to have been working in the army and currently posted in Iraq.

Hatim was good at academics, and also enthusiastic about music and sports. He went to the US after earning an engineering degree from the Madurai Kamraj University in June 2003, said his family.

Hatim was sworn in as a US citizen in January 2004 after joining the army the previous year.

"He wanted to join the US army the day he arrived in that country on a permanent residency permit. He joined against his family's wishes. He was a brave and ambitious man," said his uncle Noordin.

First Published: Aug 31, 2005 11:50 IST