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Swedish-British radio journalist gunned down in Kabul

Swedish journalist Nils Horner is pictured in Stockholm, 20 August 2013
Swedish journalist Nils Horner is pictured in Stockholm, 20 August 2013

REUTERS/Mattias Ahlm/Sveriges Radio/TT Agency

UPDATE from International Federation of Journalists: Afghan suspect arrested in Swedish journalist's murder (3 February 2015)

On Tuesday 11 March 2014, gunmen shot dead Swedish Radio's South Asia correspondent, Nils Horner. The incident occurred in the high-security zone of Wazir Akbar Khan, a diplomatic district in Kabul.

A local official said the journalist was shot in the back of the head in an unusual attack, using a pistol with a silencer, and died on his way to hospital.

Kabul Police spokesperson Hashmatullah Stankzai said that the journalist, who had only been in the country for two days, was shot around 11:15am, local time. He was travelling from his hotel to the ruins of a Lebanese restaurant bombed by the Taliban in January. He had been planning to meet a survivor there for a report, Stankzai added.

Without providing details, Satnkzai said the victim's Afghan translator and driver had been detained by police for further investigation.

According to Sveriges Radio, the 51-year-old journalist reported from Afghanistan in 2001 when the Taliban were forced from power, during the USA's entry into Baghdad in 2003, from Thailand following the tsunami in 2004, and from Japan after the tsunami and ensuing Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in 2011.

Swedish Radio's Director-General Cilla Benkö says this is one of the worst days in the corporation's history. "Nils was one of our absolute best and most experienced correspondents and what has happened to him today is terrible. We are now trying to get as many details as we can," she said in a statement.

"We know there are high-risk areas", she added, "Kabul isn't an area Swedish Radio should not cover."

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt passed on his sympathies at a press conference: "I want to express my deepest condolences to Nils Horner's relatives," he said. "We know Nils Horner as a knowledgeable, enthusiastic and experienced journalist. Many Swedes have listened to his voice, a voice which has now been silenced."

A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told Associated Press that the group was not immediately claiming responsibility for the shooting but added that he would speak to insurgent groups on the ground.

The incident came a day after a local journalist, Mukhtar Wafayee, was severely beaten by two unknown gunmen, in the downtown area of the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Local journalist Noor Agha Sharifi told AFJC that the two unknown individuals criticised and insulted Wafayee for what they referred to as "publishing propaganda", and then beat him.

The Afghanistan Journalists Center condemns the killing of the British-Swedish journalist and the beating of the local journalist and expresses serious concerns about an increase in violence against journalists during this critical time while the country is preparing for presidential and local council elections.

The AFJC requests that the Afghan government uphold freedom of the media by ensuring there is a secure environment, and defend reporters' rights by holding the violators accountable for their acts.


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