The commander who was in charge of an army support unit in January 1972 in which 13 unarmed protesters were killed in the Bloody Sunday massacre, has been shot dead during a botched robbery in Kenya.

Colonel Edward Loden, 73, was attacked on Saturday night at his son's home in the capital Nairobi.

His family said in a statement: "A retired British Army colonel, Edward Loden, was shot and killed during a robbery at his son's home in Langata, Nairobi, shortly after returning from dinner on Saturday evening, September 7, whilst he was on holiday visiting his son and family.

"Nobody else was injured in the attack, which took place when a group of armed men forced their way into the compound.”

Father-of-two Col Loden was exonerated by the Saville Inquiry into the Bloody Sunday shootings of January 1972, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

In one of the biggest atrocities of the Troubles, soldiers under the command of Major Edward ‘Ted’ Loden fired more than 100 shots into the crowd of civil rights protesters.

In 2003 he told the Saville inquiry: “If the IRA had not opened fire on my soldiers with murderous intent, no one would have been killed.”

Families of the victims later argued that Loden could have stopped the shootings. But the Saville report concluded that events on the ground were moving so quickly "after the soldiers disembarked in the Bogside that Major Loden had no idea what was actually going on, he assumed that his soldiers had come under attack from republican paramilitaries and were responding.

"At the time the casualties were being sustained, Major Loden neither realised nor should have realised that his soldiers were or might be firing at people who were not posing or about to pose a threat."

Loden is said to have recently recovered from throat cancer. He retired in 1992.