News / Asia

Colleagues Remember Journalist Murdered in Kabul

Pictures of Afghan journalist Sardar Ahmad of Agence France-Presse (R) and his wife are placed on their graves in Kabul March 23, 2014.
Pictures of Afghan journalist Sardar Ahmad of Agence France-Presse (R) and his wife are placed on their graves in Kabul March 23, 2014.
On Thursday evening the news came out that Kabul's Serena Hotel had come under insurgent attack and Afghan National Security Forces were battling four gunmen inside the luxurious hotel in the center of the city. Humayoon Shoib, a Kabul-based Afghan journalist who works for Voice of America’s Afghan service, picked up his phone and called Sardar Ahmad, an Agence France-Presse (AFP) reporter, to cover the developing story. For the first time, Ahmad did not answer, said Shoib.

Shoib worked with Ahmad for many years. Their history dates back to 2003, when both covered International Security Assistance Force press conferences for their respective news organizations at Bagram Airfield.  He said it was very unusual to not receive a phone call from Sardar Ahmad on occasions like the Serena Hotel attack, because they would always tip each other off about major events in the capital and around the country.

“The first call that I made was to Sardar at around 9 p.m. [Thursday,] Shoib said. "I continued to call him until 9:55 with no luck, and unfortunately in the morning we learned that he, along with his wife and two young children, a boy and a girl, have been killed in the attack and his 3-year-old son has been severely injured,” Shoib said.

March 21st coincided with the Afghan New Year and the beginning of spring in Afghanistan. Afghan families traditionally go out for dinner or visit a relative’s home to celebrate on New Year's Eve.
 
Waheed Masood, who worked with Ahmad in AFP’s Kabul bureau for many years, told VOA’s Afghan service that Sardar had promised his wife and kids that they will celebrate the New Year out this year.
 
“Unfortunately Sardar, along with his two young children aged 4 and 6 years old and his wife, were targeted by the insurgents and killed,” said Masood, who is pursuing a master’s degree in the U.S.

Masood said Ahmad's 3-year-old son is struggling to survive the injuries he sustained in the attack.

Reports suggest that Ahmad and his family were shot at point blank range by the insurgents. A survivor account indicated that the mother pleaded with the insurgents to spare her children and take her life instead, but the attackers shot her and then turned their guns on the children.       

Afghan officials said nine civilians were killed in Thursday’s attack, including four foreigners dinning at the hotel.  The insurgents also died in the attack.

"The attackers were killed in three hours by the Afghan security forces," Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said.
 
Sediqi said Afghan authorities are investigating how the gunmen entered the premises of the hotel despite its tight security. Surveillance camera footage revealed that attackers passed through personal search and metal detectors with pistols hidden in their shoes.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said about 20 people were killed inside the hotel before their attackers were gunned down. 
 
Sediqi said recent attacks, including the one at the Serena Hotel, are part of the Taliban campaign to disrupt the Afghan elections. Afghans will vote on April 5th to choose a new leader for the country. The elections are considered crucial for the future stability of the country, as it will mark the first democratic transfer of political power from one elected president to another.

Shoib said Ahmad was a dedicated husband and father in addition to being a committed journalist who worked tirelessly to give a human face to the conflict in Afghanistan and be objective in his reporting.
 
“Whenever I would cover an event in Kabul or elsewhere where there would be innocent lives lost because of an explosion or a suicide attack, I would be very angry and emotional about it," he said. "Sardar always told me that we were journalists and our job was to tell the world about what’s going in Afghanistan and be as objective in our work as possible.”
 
The United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan issued a statement condemning the attack on Serena hotel, saying the targeting of civilians installations is considered a direct attack on civilians. 

As fighting escalated between the government and insurgents across the country, the war took an increasing toll on Afghan civilians in 2013, with a 14 percent increase in the total civilian casualties.

A recent U.N. report attributes three quarters of the civilian death toll to Taliban attacks.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid