An Agence France-Presse reporter who was based in its Afghanistan bureau was killed last night after being shot along with his wife and three children in an armed attack on a hotel, according to reports.
Sardar Ahmad, 40, his wife, and two of their children were killed. The couple’s third child, an infant, survived the attack and was reportedly being treated for critical injuries.
Four teenage assailants who were hiding guns in their socks got past security at the Serena hotel as part of a deliberate wave of violence aimed to unsettle plans for an upcoming election.
The bloodshed at a luxury hotel in the city center is the latest such incident as Afghanistan's polls approach. On March 11, British-Swedish journalist Nils Horner, 52, was shot dead in broad daylight in a street in the supposedly secure diplomatic district.
Hotel guests hid or fled during the attack, according to Reuters.
One of the hotel's main saferooms, which was packed with guests and Afghan members of parliament, filled with smoke from a fire in the kitchen. "It was hard to breathe. People started putting wet napkins on their faces," one witness said.
According to The New York Times, Sediq Seddiqi, the spokesman for Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, wants to know how the gunman gained entry to the hotel.
Mr. Seddiqi told reporters that the attack "puts the Serena's advanced security system under question," suggesting the assailants may have had inside help.
The Taliban took credit for the deadly attack, according to the Guardian.
Zabihullah Mujihid, a Taliban spokesman, who claimed responsibility for the attack, said the fighters evaded security by using a back entrance. He said they were armed with light and heavy weapons and suicide vests, although only gunfire was heard during the attack.
Ahmad was remembered fondly for his journalistic endeavors by coworkers at AFP.
Shocked colleagues of Sardar Ahmad, the senior reporter in AFP's Kabul bureau, Friday mourned the loss of a charming and talented journalist equally at ease covering Afghanistan's wrenching conflict as with colourful tales ? including a lion who lived on a roof.
The Bangkok Post reported that Ahmad was hired in 2003 and covered all aspects of life, war, and politics in his native country.
He was a specialist in security issues, with strong contacts on both the government and Taliban sides, allowing him to file balanced stories on the complex conflict wracking Afghanistan.