New York, March 21, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply saddened by an attack on Thursday night in Afghanistan in which Sardar Ahmad, a senior reporter for Agence France-Presse’s Kabul bureau, was killed. Four gunmen stormed the Serena Hotel in Kabul during Nowruz celebrations, which marks the start of the Afghan and Persian new year. The assailants killed nine, including Ahmad, members of his family including his wife and two children; a former Paraguayan diplomat visiting the country to observe elections; and foreign nationals from Canada, India, New Zealand, and Pakistan, according to news reports. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, the reports said.
“We mourn the death of Sardar Ahmad and extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues,” said Robert Mahoney, CPJ’s deputy director. “His death is a tremendous loss for Afghanistan’s press, which works in an atmosphere of tremendous instability, especially as elections draw closer.”
There has been an uptick in attacks in Kabul in recent weeks as next month’s presidential elections approach. Earlier this month, British-Swedish journalist Nils Horner was shot dead in broad daylight in Kabul’s diplomatic district, and in January, a Lebanese restaurant popular with foreigners was attacked in a suicide bombing.