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

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora