Afghan criminal investigation begins in killing of AP photographer and wounding of AP reporter

Published: April 9, 2014

FILE – In this Aug. 27, 2013 file photo, Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus, right, and AP journalist Kathy Gannon, are pictured during a visit to the photo agency Keystone in Zurich, Switzerland. AP Photo/Keystone, Walter Bieri

KIM GAMEL and AMIR SHAH
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan central government authorities on Wednesday began questioning the police commander who killed an Associated Press photographer and wounded an AP reporter, a day after he was transferred by helicopter to the capital — a rare case in which an Afghan officer or soldier who shot a foreigner was captured alive.

Local security officials who spoke with the suspect after he was first detained said he seemed a calm, pious man who may have come under the influence of Islamic extremists calling for vengeance against foreigners over drone strikes. Witness and official accounts so far have suggested the shooting was not planned.

But the Afghan Interior Ministry, which is overseeing the investigation, told the AP it won’t speculate about a motive so early in its probe into the attack, which killed AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus and seriously wounded senior correspondent Kathy Gannon.

The suspect, identified as a unit commander named Naqibullah, surrendered immediately after the attack Friday in front of dozens of security forces and election workers on a heavily guarded government compound in eastern Afghanistan. The shooting was the first known case of a security insider attacking journalists in Afghanistan, part of a surge in violence targeting foreigners.

Niedringhaus and Gannon were travelling in their own car with an AP freelancer and a translator in a convoy of workers transporting election materials from Khost, the capital of the province of the same name on the border with Pakistan, to the outlying district of Tani.

The convoy went first to the district government’s headquarters. The two foreign correspondents spoke to and photographed Afghan policemen and soldiers in the area, witnesses said, but it started to rain and they were worried about their equipment so they got back into the backseat of their car to wait for the convoy to move to deliver ballots to a nearby village.

The shooter, who was wearing his police uniform, approached the car and stuck the barrel of the AK-47 in the backseat window, shouted “God is great!” and started firing, according to the witnesses and officials.

“The good thing is that he is alive in this case because usually in these kinds of incidents the shooter either is killed or he escapes from the scene,” Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Seddiqi said Wednesday in an interview, referring to attacks by Afghan police or soldiers on foreigners. “But this time our police acted professionally and he was immediately arrested.”

Gul Zahir, the Tani district police chief, said he was one of the first people to see Naqibullah, who was tackled by security forces after the shooting.

“I took custody of him. I asked him, ‘Why did you do this thing?”‘ he said in a telephone interview with AP. “Naqibullah said, ‘I don’t know.”‘

However, the suspect gave different explanations to provincial officials who questioned him in the days he was in custody in Khost.

Gul Mohammad, the counterterrorism director in Khost who participated in the initial questioning, said Naqibullah at first claimed the attack was in revenge for a Jan. 15 airstrike in the Ghorband district of Parwan province, a bombing which prompted a wave of anger against foreigners.

The Afghans claimed 12 civilians and four Taliban fighters were killed in the airstrike. The U.S.-led coalition said the Afghan government had requested the operation ahead of the country’s April 5 presidential elections because the area had fallen under Taliban control.

But the Interior Ministry said Naqibullah was from an area in Parwan that was not connected in any way with the airstrike.

“There was no record of any drone strike in the whole area where he lived, where his family is living,” Seddiqi said. “The initial statement does not really indicate anything so far. We do not have still any clarity on the motives.”

The Khost counterterrorism director said Naqibullah also claimed he was inspired by a lawmaker and a cleric who encouraged holy war against Americans and other foreigners. “He said, ‘Thank God I didn’t kill any Muslims.”‘

Seddiqi, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said he had seen reports from local authorities describing Naqibullah as a calm and devout Muslim who had been stationed in Khost city for a year and a half, had no criminal background and was not known to use drugs.

“His (previous) behaviour was quite normal,” Seddiqi said. “Nobody had noticed in the past any strange behaviour from him. There’s nothing that could suggest or link his act to any fundamentalist violence or extremism.”

Related stories:

Zahir, the district police chief, agreed, though he noted that Naqibullah prayed five times a day as is Muslim tradition and constantly read the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book.

He said Naqibullah had asked for his own room on the base so he could have privacy to read but that there was not enough space so he had to share with a roommate. He said the suspect, who is in his late 20s, was married three months ago and had no children.

“I knew this guy,” Zahir said. “He didn’t cause headaches, wasn’t smoking hashish. … He was a very religious person.”

Naqibullah was armed with only a pistol on Friday but demanded a subordinate give him an AK-47 automatic rifle, which he used to open fire on the journalists, according to regional officials.

Past insider killings have raised concern about the infiltration of the Taliban and allied militants in the government security forces, although other motives have ranged from personal disputes to traumatic stress.

Still, the shootings of Niedringhaus, a German photographer who had covered conflict zones from the Balkans in the 1990s to Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, and Gannon, a Canadian who has reported from Afghanistan since the 1980s, were the latest in a spike of attacks targeting foreigners.

Niedringhaus, 48, died instantly of her wounds. A funeral service will be held on Saturday at Corvey Abbey, a Benedictine monastery near her birthplace in Hoxter, Germany.

Gannon, 60, was severely wounded in both wrists and the right shoulder. She was treated at a hospital in Khost before being evacuated to a French-run NATO military medical facility in Kabul and eventually transferred to a hospital in Germany, where she is in stable condition.

“We are heartened by her progress,” said Paul Colford, director of media relations for AP. “She has been alert and aware and has been talking to relatives and close friends since Monday afternoon.”

——

Gamel can be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kimgamel

16:04ET 09-04-14

[+]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Readers Comments (0)

Comments are closed.

Featured

babe SEXY BOLLYWOOD desi

B.C.’s Miss India Canada pageant contestant sues ex-boyfriend to pay for tuition for failed class after breakup

KAMLOOPS THIS WEEK KAMLOOPS — A 22-year-old B.C. woman is suing her ex-boyfriend to pay tuition for a class she says she failed due to distress…
Continue Reading »

Longtime Surrey politician and former mayor Bob Bose is pictured here near his south Surrey home on Monday, November 21, 2011. Jenelle Schneider/PNG

Former Surrey mayor Bob Bose backs Barinder Rasode, says no Surrey Matters slate coming

AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — Though Coun. Barinder Rasode has yet to officially announce her intentions to run for the city’s top job, she’s…
Continue Reading »

A Pakistani-Canadian blogger has released Pakistan's first-ever anti-homophobia children's book. Submitted photo/Nicemangos.blogspot.ca.

Toronto-based blogger releases Pakistan’s first anti-homophobia children’s book

VANCOUVER DESI A Toronto-based Pakistani blogger has written and released Pakistan’s first-ever anti-homophobia children’s book. Blogger Eiynah, known for her site Nice Mangos where she…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

babe SEXY BOLLYWOOD desi

B.C.’s Miss India Canada pageant contestant sues ex-boyfriend to pay for tuition for failed class after breakup

KAMLOOPS THIS WEEK KAMLOOPS — A 22-year-old B.C. woman is suing her ex-boyfriend to pay tuition for a class she says she failed due to distress…
Continue Reading »

Longtime Surrey politician and former mayor Bob Bose is pictured here near his south Surrey home on Monday, November 21, 2011. Jenelle Schneider/PNG

Former Surrey mayor Bob Bose backs Barinder Rasode, says no Surrey Matters slate coming

AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — Though Coun. Barinder Rasode has yet to officially announce her intentions to run for the city’s top job, she’s…
Continue Reading »

A Pakistani-Canadian blogger has released Pakistan's first-ever anti-homophobia children's book. Submitted photo/Nicemangos.blogspot.ca.

Toronto-based blogger releases Pakistan’s first anti-homophobia children’s book

VANCOUVER DESI A Toronto-based Pakistani blogger has written and released Pakistan’s first-ever anti-homophobia children’s book. Blogger Eiynah, known for her site Nice Mangos where she…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

jail sex

B.C. Supreme Court to decide if Kamloops Mountie watching women have sex in jail is a crime

THE CANADIAN PRESS KAMLOOPS, B.C. — A judge wants to hear arguments from lawyers about the legality of the charge against an RCMP corporal accused…
Continue Reading »

Rice Bucket India poverty

India’s Rice Bucket Challenge gives a ‘meaningful twist’ to ALS ice bucket challenge

VANCOUVER DESI India has created its own “desi” version of the ALS ice bucket challenge that has swept the globe. While the original icy cold…
Continue Reading »

India

Man proudly wears world’s largest turban weighing in at 100 pounds and 645 metres long unwrapped

VANCOUVER DESI A 60-year-old devout Sikh in northern India appears to be the proud owner of the world’s largest turban – weighing in at 100…
Continue Reading »

Elephant headed god

Gallery: India prepares to welcome elephant-headed Lord Ganesha

VANCOUVER DESI Preparations for Ganesh Chaturthi, a festival marking the birth of the elephant-headed god, have taken off in India as Hindus prepare to welcome…
Continue Reading »

Witches Burned Victim Alive In Front Of Family

Witches burn Indian dad alive in a bizarre ritual in front of his wife and 10-year-old son

CEN AGENCY Witches who burned a man alive after chopping off his arms in a bizarre ritual have been seized by police in central India….
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Newly-elected Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament and Indian Bollywood actor Paresh Rawal arrives in Parliament in New Delhi on May 20, 2014. India's Narendra Modi is expected to formally declare his intention to form the next government May 20, days after his Hindu nationalist party won the first parliamentary majority in three decades. PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images

No one else can play the role: Paresh Rawal on Modi biopic

IANS Mumbai  – Versatile actor Paresh Rawal, who will soon start shooting for a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, says he is the right…
Continue Reading »

hot photos desi actress bollywood sex

Gallery: Deepika Padukone photo shoot

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood beauty Deepika Padukone, who is creating a lot of buzz with her upcoming film Finding Fanny, poses for the camera. Related Stories:…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood desi boobs sex

Bollywood’s bold babe Sherlyn Chopra strips for Playboy

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood actress Sherlyn Chopra marks the first-ever Indian model to pose for Playboy magazine, according to eonline.com. While the 30-year-old announced she’d be…
Continue Reading »