Kabul hints at Islamabad link to attack on hotel

 24 Mar 2014 - 9:52

A colleague and friend of slain AFP reporter Sardar Ahmad holds a portrait of Ahmad in front of the Eid Gah Mosque during funeral ceremonies in Kabul yesterday.

KABUL: Afghanistan yesterday said an attack on a Kabul hotel that left nine civilians dead, including an AFP journalist, was planned “outside the country” in a veiled reference to Pakistan.
The National Security Council (NSC), which is chaired by President Hamid Karzai, also alleged that a Pakistani diplomat was seen scoping out the corridors of the Serena hotel ahead of the Thursday night raid.
Pakistan was the main supporter of the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and Afghan officials have long voiced suspicions about connections between the hardline movement and Islamabad’s powerful intelligence services.
The NSC said the attack on the hotel, which was carried out by four teenage gunmen and claimed by the Taliban, was in fact the work of “foreign intelligence services” — a phrase normally meant to mean neighbouring Pakistan.
“Witness testimony and preliminary information analysis shows that this terrorist attack was directly executed or carried out by foreign intelligence services outside the country,” the council said in a statement.
“Another information of the NDS (National Directorate of Security) shows that earlier when one Pakistani diplomat entered the Kabul-Serena hotel to use its sport club, he filmed the corridors of the hotel which the hotel staff raised objections to,” it added.
The NDS is Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency. The victims of Thursday’s attack included AFP journalist Sardar Ahmad, his wife and two of their three children, along with another Afghan and four foreigners — two Canadians, an American and a Paraguayan.
The couple’s youngest son, two-year-old Abozar, survived with bullet wounds to the head, chest and leg and remained in intensive care yesterday.
Meanwhile, hundreds of mourners turned out in pouring rain to lay to rest Sardar Ahmad, together with his wife and two of their children. After the funeral procession made its way through the capital, they were buried side by side at a cemetery on the outskirts of Kabul, as those who came to pay their respects wept under umbrellas.
The coffins were carried from a mortuary to the family home for prayers yesterday morning, where Ahmad’s brothers broke down in tears and female family members wailed in distress. The funeral procession made its way through the capital amid tight security.
Large portraits decorated in flowers accompanied the coffins, carried by Afghan soldiers in dress uniform on their journey. Afghan national flags covered the two adult coffins, while the children’s were draped in green.
The caskets were later taken to the Eid Gah mosque for further prayers and then on to a graveyard on the outskirts of the city.