Nato admits US soldier killed BBC Afghan freelance

BBC stringer Ahmed Omed Khpulwak was shot dead by a US soldier who mistook him for a suicide bomber.

The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan made the admission yesterday after launching an inquiry when initial reports that Khpulwak was killed by insurgents were questioned.

Khpulwak, 25, was one of 19 people killed in the town of Tarin Kowt in southern Uruzgan province on 28 July.

According to a BBC report, ISAF troops were responding to an insurgent attack on the offices of Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA), but claimed it was ‘confident its soldiers had complied with the laws of armed conflict and rules of engagement and acted reasonably under the circumstances”.

Fighting broke out in Tarin Kowt following three suicide bombings, and while the Taliban admitted carrying out the attacks it denied killing the reporter.

The BBC said it recognised that ISAF’s admission has provided clarification and ended a ‘period of uncertainty”, adding: ‘The BBC, the wider media community and people around the world are greatly indebted to Ahmed Omed and all his colleagues who have been killed whilst doing their job.”

The BBC’s director of global news said Khpulwak’s death was ‘a tragedy for his family and friends as well as his colleagues at the BBC”.

‘Ahmed Omed’s death further highlights the great dangers facing journalists who put their lives on the line to provide vital news from around the world,’he said.

‘It is essential that journalists are given the best possible protection whilst reporting in dangerous situations so that the world can hear their stories.

‘Our thoughts are with Ahmed Omed’s family and we will continue to do all we can to support them.”

Khpulwak joined the BBC on 1 May 2008 as a stringer, and was also working for Pajwak Afghan news agency.

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