Swedish Journalist Killed in Afghanistan


Swedish A Swedish journalist was assassinated by two gunmen on a crowded street in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Assassination-style murders of foreigners is a rare occurrence in the city of more than three million, where thousands of foreigners have lived for more than 10 years.

The journalist, identified as 51 -year-old Nils Horner, was speaking to security guards outside a restaurant in the capital city when he was approached by two men dressed in traditional Afghan clothing. Reports given by senior police officer, Col. Najibullah Samsour, say that one of the gunmen pulled out a pistol and shot Horner in the face before both gunmen fled the scene. Nils Horner, who held both British and Swedish citizenship was working on assignment for Swedish radio. The attack of the reporter, which is rare, has caused some concern among the relatively large community of foreigners that includes diplomats, aid workers and journalists who live in Kabul.  

There was once a limited amount of social activity for expatriates in the Afghan capital, with a few bars and restaurants that catered to foreigners, but as the security deteriorated, and there were more high-profile attacks on Afghan officials, the western embassies and forces from coalition members, have increased security measures for diplomats living in the area. 

In January, a Lebanese restaurant, popular with expats, the Taverna du Liban was hit in a suicide attack by the Taliban, who claimed responsibility for the attack that killed 21 people. 13 of the victims were foreigners, and the Taliban has said that Westerners were specifically targeted.

Since the attack on Taverna du Liban, the business at other restaurants that were popular with foreigners has plummeted. The social scene for many Westerners who previously traveled freely, has all but disappeared, as parent organizations have placed security restrictions on their activities. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, and there is no indication that Horner was targeted, or whether it was a case of mistaken identity or whether it was just a random attack on foreigners. The Taliban has also denied responsibility, and no one really knows why the Swedish reporter was killed in Afghanistan.

Colonel Samsour, the police official, said that the Swedish journalist had only been in Kabul since Sunday and was working on a story on the attack on the Taverna du Liban when he was killed. He had previously visited the city on a few occasions, and was staying in a guesthouse. Witnesses say that he was actually standing outside another Lebanese restaurant called Beirut, and was speaking to security guards about a survivor of the attack on Taverna du Liban. A witness also said that police arrived after the shooting occurred and took Horner to the hospital, but the gunmen had already fled.

Taverna du Liban, which has not reopened since the January attack, is not far away from the Beirut, where the Swedish journalist was shot in Kabul. The attack occurred in the Wazir Akbar Khan, neighborhood, which  is among the most expensive in areas in Kabul, and is heavily populated with foreigners. It is also the area where three major news outlets have their offices.

By Dale Davidson


NY Times