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

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid