US soldier shot dead BBC journalist, Nato admits


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The Independent Online

Nato has admitted shooting dead a BBC journalist in Afghanistan in "a case of mistaken identity" after a US soldier mistook him for a suicide bomber.

Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, 25, who reported for the corporation in Urozgan province in the south of the country, died when insurgents stormed the local radio and television offices.

A report released yesterday by the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said that American forces believed the reporter had opened fire at them, but that Mr Khpulwak was later found to be unarmed.

The report said a member of the US military, who has not been identified, acted "reasonably under the circumstances" when he shot the freelance reporter.

Mr Khpulwak was shot 11 times.

At least 19 people died on July 28 during an hour-long ambush that began when three suicide bombers blew up vehicles packed with explosives at the gates of a government compound in the provincial capital of Tarin Kot.

Mr Khpulwak was in the Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) base at the time. In hiding, he texted his brother: "I am hiding. Death has come." Then, "Pray for me if I die".

During a subsequent clearing operation, one soldier was instructed to move up to a broken wall where a young man with a beard was seen "with something clenched in one of his fists".

"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," the report concluded.

The BBC said said in a statement: "The BBC, the wider media community and people around the world are greatly indebted to Ahmed Omed and his colleagues who have been killed whilst doing their job."