British-Swedish Journalist Shot Dead in Afghanistan


Reporter Nils Horner, 51, killed in unprecedented execution-style attack in Kabul’s diplomatic district.

Afghanistan, Journalist, Kabul AttackGunmen have killed a British-Swedish journalist with a single bullet in an unusual execution-style attack on a civilian in Kabul’s heavily policed diplomatic district.

Nils Horner, 51, was a well-known and respected correspondent for Swedish radio who had reported from Afghanistan in the past but arrived in Kabul again only on Sunday.

The shooting on Tuesday came at a tense time; the day Afghanistan buried a vice-president, and just weeks before a landmark election to choose the country’s first new leader in more than a decade.

But there were no clues as to who ordered the killing, or why. The Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group was not behind the attack, and other insurgent groups denied any role.

Horner was attacked while travelling from his hotel to the ruins of a restaurant bombed by the Taliban in January, in the hope of finding survivors for a story.

“He was on his way to the Lebanese restaurant to interview the cook when he was shot,” a senior source with the city’s criminal investigation department said.

Two men approached him on foot as he stepped out of his Toyota Corolla car and attacked at short range, witness Zubair Atta Mohammad said. “He was shot in the head and the road was covered with blood,” he told the Guardian.

The journalist was raced to the nearby hospital in a police ranger van within minutes of the shooting, but died of his injuries soon after. The road was cleaned and a bullet mark on a nearby Mercedes was the only trace left of the killing.

The suspected gunmen ran off down a nearby lane. Police have detained the driver and translator who were working with Horner, but said they had no clues yet about the attack, beyond the type of weapon used. “He was killed by a pistol with a silencer,” the senior police source said.

Although there are many guns in the country – and no shortage of people who are unafraid to use them if crossed – it is still a safer place for reporters than some other countries in the region, according to watchdog groups.

Attacks on journalists have mostly taken place far outside the capital, and Afghan journalists working with Horner said it was unlikely he would have provoked anyone with the reporting from his current trip.

“Nils Horner visited our bureau on Sunday to discuss his stories, all light and human-interest stories such as women’s rights, elections,” the Pressistan agency, which works with visiting correspondents, said on Twitter.

His killing was condemned by the United Nations, the British ambassador and many prominent Swedes, including the former prime minister Carl Bildt. The Afghan government promised to find the attackers.

“[I have] called Swedish ambassador, Peter Semneby, to offer condolences and assure him that the Afghan government will do its utmost to bring perpetrators to justice,” the deputy foreign minister, Ershad Ahmadi, said.

Although the city endures regular bombings on government, diplomatic and military buildings, causing dozens of civilian casualties, and there are assassination attempts on prominent politicians, it is unprecedented for a civilian to be targeted in broad daylight in a wealthy downtown area. The area is normally full of police and private security guards keeping watch over the mansions of the rich and powerful, and many roads are blocked off by boom gates.

Tributes to Horner, an award-winning journalist, poured in as news of his murder spread.

“A dear friend, and Sweden’s foremost foreign correspondent, was gunned down in Kabul today,” said Swedish columnist Jenny Nordberg.

“So sad to hear of the loss of Nils Horner: a serious-minded, well-informed, humane reporter,” said Kabul-based analyst Kate Clark.

The shooting happened just a block away from the site of a January suicide attack on a restaurant that devastated the small but close-knit foreign community in Kabul and changed the way aid workers, businesses and other expatriates operated in the country.

A suicide bomber and gunmen burst into the Taverna, killing the guards and drivers outside and then gunning down everyone inside, including the country head of the International Monetary Fund, a top UN official working on peace talks with insurgents, and a newly married Afghan couple.

Since then there has been a clampdown on meetings, travel and the few other freedoms allowed to most non-Afghans living in Kabul. Some organisations have withdrawn part or all of their staff, raising concerns about the future of aid projects vital to the Afghan economy, particularly because most countries require oversight of their government spending.

The shooting is likely to add to security concerns, particularly ahead of an election that the Taliban have vowed to attack, warning poll workers, campaign teams and voters that they are risking their lives by


Leave A Reply