MEDIA

BBC Journalist Ahmed Omed Khpulwak Killed By U.S. Forces In Afghanistan

NATO has admitted that a U.S. soldier shot a BBC journalist to death in July.

The Guardian was the first to report the news that Ahmed Omed Khpulwak was killed by an American. Khpulwak was one of at least 19 people to die during a fight that erupted between the Taliban and American forces after the Taliban attacked an Afghan television station.

NATO said that the death was accidental, and military officials met with his family on Thursday to apologize for the "mistake." Khpulwak had worked as a stringer for the BBC since 2008. He also worked for an Afghan news service.

The official report from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said that Khpulwak, 25, had died because of "mistaken identity." He was hiding from the fight when, according to ISAF, a soldier mistook him for a surviving Taliban fighter and took his movements as a sign that he was a suicide bomber.

Khpulwak's brother, Jawid, spoke to the Guardian after NATO's admission.

"They thought he was a suicide bomber, but how?" he said. "He spoke English and would have been showing his press card."

The BBC reported that Khpulwak sent Jawid two text messages during the attack. The first read: "I am hiding. Death has come." The second read: "pray for me if I die."

It was initially reported that Khpulwak had been killed by the Taliban. However, the BBC asked NATO to investigate the circumstances of his death. In late August, the Kabul-based Afghanistan Analysts Network issued a report that suggested that there was strong evidence of a U.S. hand in his death.

Khpulwak's family told the AAN that they were initially suspicious when they found his body in the aftermath of the battle. The Taliban had set off a suicide bomb, but Jawid said that, in contrast to other heavily mutilated and disfigured bodies at the site, his body was "intact, clean, whole. All he had was gun-shot wounds and bleeding. When we washed him, we could see the gunshot wounds. There were more than eleven."

The AAN also concluded that, based on the timing of Khpulwak's death, it seemed clear that he was killed after the Taliban fighters were already dead.