Briton in Somali prison survives beheading attempt by ISIS loyalists

One suspect was set to cut his neck when authorities at the Mogadishu complex intervened

Soldiers of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) stand at the entrance of the strategic "K4" base in Mogadishu, on November 24, 2009. Somalia's embattled president appealed to the international community on November 24, to do more to prop up his transitional government, fighting for survival against an Al Qaeda-inspired insurgency. AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBA
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A British security contractor who was training African troops in Somalia has survived an attempted beheading by inmates loyal to ISIS at a prison in Mogadishu.

Antony Cox was working in Somalia for the American security company Bancroft Global Development but was imprisoned last week after Somali authorities discovered tear gas canisters in his bag ahead of departure from the country.

Inside Mogadishu Central Prison, he was held alongside some of the country’s most dangerous extremists. Two men subsequently tried to cut his throat with razor blades attached with makeshift handles.

The 48-year-old suffered a slash to the neck that was not thought to be life-threatening as the attack was stopped before it could go further. As one of the suspects tried to cut deeper into his neck, prison authorities intervened.

"As one of the suspects was about to cut his [Mr Cox's] neck, we managed to stop him. He sustained a very minor cut. He is doing well," Abdikarim Ali Afra, the deputy governor of the prison, told the BBC's Somali service.

He was working in the country to train soldiers in their battle against Al Shabab, the insurgent Al Qaeda affiliate that regularly attacks civilian and military targets.

It is not known why he was held in Somalia’s most feared prison facility and not another compound for his safety.

Before his arrest, Mr Cox was set to travel on an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa from the Somali capital. He did not disclose the canisters and was charged with endangering the public.

Airport security at Mogadishu airport has been heightened since an explosion blew a hole in the side of a passenger jet in 2016 after a bomb was smuggled onto the aircraft through security at the terminal.

After the injuries Mr Cox sustained in the attack, it remains unknown if and when he will go to trial.