KABUL: A 73-year-old Japanese aid worker killed in an ambush outside Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan has been described as a “hero” by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Testu Nakamura and five fellow aid workers died when gunmen attacked their car on Wednesday.
Tributes to the popular aid worker continued to pour in on Saturday with candlelight vigils held in different areas of the country. Schools erected posters of the aid worker while the national airline displayed images of him on its aircraft.
“The level of grief and respect expressed by Afghans show how much people loved him. None of our current leaders would receive so much respect and attention should any of them die like this Japanese aid worker,” Rasoul Dad, a civil servant, told Arab News on Saturday.
Nakamura’s wife, daughter and three of his colleagues, including a childhood friend, arrived in Kabul on Friday as the Afghan government prepared to return his body to Japan.
The Afghan leader met them at the presidential palace and described Nakamura as a “hardworking personality.”
On Saturday, in a memorial ceremony after accompanying the body to Kabul airport, Ghani called Nakamura a hero.
“Nakamura was a great personality who dedicated his life to the goodness and strengthening of Afghanistan’s deprived people,” Ghani said.
The Afghan national flag was placed on Nakamura’s coffin as his family, accompanied by Japanese Ambassador Mitsuji Suzuka, left for Japan.
Nakamura, who spent more than half his life helping Afghan refugees as a doctor in Peshawar and later worked on several projects in the country, has become a national hero for many Afghans.
He was granted honorary citizenship several years ago after deciding to remain in the country despite the attempted abduction and murder of one of his colleagues.