KABUL: A Japanese relief worker honored for his work to improve the lives of Afghans has died after an attack by gunmen on Wednesday in Afghanistan’s eastern city of Jalalabad.
Tetsu Nakamura, 73, and five of his staff were killed in the shooting raid as they traveled to monitor an aid project, the second attack of its kind against foreigners within days in the country.
The doctor, who was head of the Peace Japan Medical Services charity and had worked for more than 13 years on agriculture and water management projects in Jalalabad, was initially wounded in the attack but later died in hospital from his injuries.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani recently awarded Nakamura honorary citizenship of Afghanistan for his services to the country, describing him as a “great friend of Afghanistan.”
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Taliban immediately distanced itself from it.
Kawun Kakar, who runs a consultancy and knew Nakamura, said he was “shocked” by the killing.
“This is terrible news of an attack on an icon of humanity for decades. Afghan-Japanese Nakamura had been expanding life and building livelihoods for thousands of people on barren land in Jalalabad.”
An Afghan government spokesman, Kabil Haqmal, said Nakamura had been targeted because he worked for the development of Afghanistan.
The incident took place in a crowded part of Jalalabad, which has borne the brunt of attacks by Daesh affiliates in recent years and comes just days after a US national working for the UN was killed in a similar attack in central Kabul. No-one has admitted carrying out that killing either.
Both attacks have followed government claims of victory over Daesh in Nangarhar, of which Jalalabad is the provincial capital, and come in the wake of renewed American efforts to restart stalled peace talks with the Taliban.
In a tweet on Tuesday, US special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said Daesh had not been totally defeated, but added that the Taliban had played a role in the fight against the terror group in Nangarhar.
“Effective operations by US/Coalition and Afghan security forces as well as the Taliban, led to Daesh-K (Daesh) losing territory and fighters. Hundreds surrendered. Daesh-K hasn’t been eliminated but this is real progress,” tweeted Khalilzad.