Journalist killed by US soldier, mistaken for enemy

Submitted by CullenH on Sat, 09/10/2011 - 04:58.

BBC reporter Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, 25, died together with at least 18 other individuals during a July war in Afghanistan. NATO admitted Thurs that a US soldier mistook the reporter for a terrorist and shot him to death. Source of article: NATO admits BBC journalist was accidentally killed by US soldier

Reason for investigation

Initial reports claimed that Khpulwak had been killed by the Taliban. NATO was asked to do an investigation as there were “conflicting reports” that BBC got.

'A case of mistaken identity'

Jimmie Cummings is a Lieutenant spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). He declared on Thurs the findings:

"After a thorough investigation, it was determined the reporter was killed in a case of mistaken identity. Mr. Khpulwak was shot by an ISAF member who believed he was an insurgent that posed a threat and was about to detonate a suicide vest improvised explosive device."

Cummings added that the soldier responsible for the demise acted "reasonably under the circumstances," and will not face any disciplinary action.

Fatally shot 11 times

After two suicide bombers attacked the Radio Television Afghanistan offices in the Taliban-heavy Uruzgan province, there was a battle on July 28 where an M-4 assault rifle was used to fatally shoot Khpulwak 11 times. United States soldiers were clearing the building when among them spied Khpulwak near a broken wall. It was said that the writer had “something clinched in one of his fists.” It also looked like there was something in his other hand he was reaching for. The soldier believed the male was going to make a bomb go off.

Saying sorry to the family

NATO officials met with Khpulwak's family on Thurs to apologize for the mistake. The BBC hired Khpulwak in 2008. He had been working freelance ever since. The Pajwak Afghan news bureau also employed him.

The fallen journalist's sibling, Jawid, told the press that he was confused about how a soldier could mistake Khpulwak for an enemy. "He spoke English and would have been showing his press card."

There were two texts Jawid got during the strike. They were both from his sibling. They read: "I am hiding. Death has come," and "Pray for me if I die."

Peter Horrocks is the BBC global news director. He said:

"The loss of Ahmed Omed is 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. It is essential that journalists are given the best possible protection whilst reporting in dangerous situations so that the world can hear their stories."

Citations

BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-14840998

ABC: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-09-09/us-soldier-killed-bbc-reporter-in-...

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/08/bbc-journalist-killed-afghanist...

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