Briton shot dead in Kabul

A British man working as an adviser to the Afghan government has been shot dead in Kabul, the Foreign Office said today.

Steven MacQueen, 41, was shot outside a guest house in the capital late last night as he drove a pick-up truck through the city centre.

The unidentified gunmen blocked his path using two vehicles, before opening fire and speeding away.

Mr MacQueen, who worked as an adviser to the country's ministry of rural reconstruction and development, had been followed by his assailants in a black four-wheel drive, which then, together with the other vehicle, overtook and trapped him.

The motive for the shooting in front of the main guest house for UN workers in Kabul and the Dutch Embassy, which came after months of relative calm in Kabul, was unclear.

General Sher Agha, a Kabul police commander, said the attack took place at about 10.15pm (5.45pm GMT).

Mr MacQueen was alone inside the four-wheel drive vehicle, which belonged to the ministry, Gen Agha said.

Police said Mr MacQueen was shot at least twice in the head and arm.

Since holding its first direct presidential elections in October, Afghanistan has enjoyed a period of relative calm, marked by a decline in attacks by Taliban and al Qaida insurgents which have plagued restive areas of the south and east.

But in November, three foreign election workers were kidnapped in Kabul by a Taliban splinter group. They were released unharmed a month later.

In December, a Turkish engineer working on a US-sponsored road project was kidnapped and killed by unidentified kidnappers in eastern Kunar province.

Although the three years since the ousting of the Taliban has seen numerous attacks on aid workers in the countryside, there have been few attacks against foreigners in the capital which is patrolled by thousands of Nato peacekeepers.

The bloodiest incidents targeting foreigners in the past year were a car bomb explosion in August outside the office of a US security company that provides bodyguards for President Hamid Karzai, killing about 10 people.

In October, a suicide attacker killed an American translator and an Afghan girl on a market street popular with foreigners by detonating grenades attached to his own body.

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