Swedish Radio today is mourning the loss of its South Asia correspondent. Nils Horner, 51, was gunned down in the streets of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. Swedish Radio’s Director-General Cilla Benkö called today one of the worst days in the corporation’s history.
According to a statement released by Afghan police, Horner was shot several times in the head while talking with his translator. The shooting occurred in the fashionable Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood, near the Lebanese restaurant where gunmen shot dead 21 people in January.
The Taliban say they had nothing to do with his murder.
“We checked with our mujahideen and they are not involved,”Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told AFP. “We don’t take responsibility for this incident.”
In just over three weeks, Afghanis will go to the polls to elect a new president. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) notes that journalists are often attacked or harrassed while covering elections. Since February 15, when campaigning for the upcoming election began, around 20 journalists have been attacked.
Réza Moïni, the head of RSF’s Iran-Afghanistan desk, called Horner’s death a tragic reminder of the dangers faced by journalists in Afghanistan.
“Although the Afghan media have developed in the past few years, mounting violence and above all the complete impunity enjoyed by those responsible for attacks on journalists could jeopardize election coverage and, with it, the entire democratic process,” Moïni said.