A Swedish journalist was gunned down Tuesday in a brazen daytime attack in the heart of Kabul’s high-security diplomatic district, as the country braced for a spate of insurgent activity ahead of presidential elections next month.
Swedish Radio identified the victim as Nils Horner, 51 years old, the broadcaster’s Asia correspondent who had just arrived in Kabul to cover the April 5 election. Such assassinations of foreign civilians on the streets of Kabul are very rare.
The Taliban, who claimed responsibility for the January attack on a Lebanese restaurant just two blocks away, haven’t issued any statements about Tuesday’s killing.
Mr. Horner was shot in the head just as President Hamid Karzai and a huge cavalcade of Afghan officials moved amid tight security to the funeral of Vice President Mohammed Qasim Fahim, who died on Sunday.
Mr. Karzai isn’t allowed to run again, and the Taliban have pledged to disrupt the election that would pick his successor.
While Kabul police said Mr. Horner was shot as he was being driven in a car, eyewitnesses said the Swedish reporter was on foot during the attack.
Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai said two gunmen approached Mr. Horner and shot him in the head with a pistol equipped with a silencer. His body was left on the ground for some 10 minutes before police showed up, witnesses said, even though the killing occurred in a high-security neighborhood rife with police checkpoints. Mr. Horner arrived in a hospital without a pulse.
Kabul police said they detained Mr. Horner’s interpreter and driver.
Afghanistan Deputy Foreign Minister Ershad Ahmadi said on his Twitter account that he expressed his condolences to Sweden’s ambassador in Kabul, and assured Stockholm that the Afghan government “will do its utmost to bring perpetrators to justice.”
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt described Mr. Horner’s death as “a true tragedy.”
Mr. Horner, who also held British citizenship, had worked in the region for many years, according to his employer. During a news conference Tuesday in Stockholm, Swedish Radio’s Director-General Cilla Benkö said Mr. Horner reported from Afghanistan in 2001 and from Iraq during in 2003. See also coverage at The Daily Mail.
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They’re idiots. He was likely far to the left and a sympathizer. Things are set to fall apart when NATO leaves.