(Updates with background)
By Katharine Houreld
KABUL, March 11 A gunman shot dead a Swedish
journalist outside a restaurant in a brazen attack in one
Kabul's most heavily guarded districts on Tuesday, police and
embassy sources said, underscoring growing insecurity
threatening next month's elections.
The Swedish Embassy identified the victim as Nils Horner,
51, who worked for Swedish Radio and had dual British-Swedish
"Nils was one of our absolute best and most experienced
correspondents and what has happened to him today is terrible,"
said Swedish Radio's director-general, Cilla Benkö, who
described this as one of the worst days in the corporation's
"We are now trying to get as many details as we can."
Horner had been waiting outside a Lebanese restaurant with
his driver and translator when two men in Western clothes
approached and one shot him at point-blank range in the back of
the head, said Zubir, a guard at the restaurant who uses only
The guard and a nearby shopkeeper said only one shot was
The attack took place barely a minute's walk from the site
of another Lebanese restaurant, where Afghan Taliban fighters
killed eight Afghans and 13 foreigners in January.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, who are
seeking to oust foreign forces and set up an Islamic state, said
the group was unaware of the attack but would investigate.
Hashmatullah Stanekzai, chief spokesman for the Kabul police
chief, said Horner's driver and translator were being questioned
but there were no suspects in custody.
The neighborhood is home to several embassies, supermarkets
and cafes frequented by foreigners. Police vehicles are
permanently stationed at a roundabout a block away and the
mansions that line the road have guards at each gate.
A daytime attack on a civilian walking in that part of the
capital is highly unusual.
The attack comes as Afghanistan prepares for the withdrawal
of NATO forces and landmark presidential elections scheduled for
April 5. The Taliban have threatened to attack anyone who takes
Afghan troops with support from NATO are helping secure the
A small contingent of Americans may remain behind if the
next government signs a deal to allow them to stay, something
President Hamid Karzai has so far refused to do.
(Additional reporting by Jessica Donati, Hamid Shalizi and
Mirwais Harooni; Editing by Nick Macfie)