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 Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora