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Swedish journalist slain in Kabul

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By The Washington Post
Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 5:33 p.m.

KABUL, Afghanistan — A Swedish journalist was fatally shot on Tuesday in Kabul in a brazen attack that many worry reflects the growing danger for foreigners in Afghanistan's capital.

Nils Horner, 52, was gunned down in a neighborhood populated by western non-governmental organizations, embassies and journalists. It's the same area where 21 people, mostly foreigners, were killed when a Lebanese restaurant was attacked in January.

Both attacks sent shockwaves through the international community in Kabul. Horner's killing, in broad daylight, was particularly disturbing to Western journalists who do much of their work beyond the blast walls of military bases and diplomatic compounds.

According to Afghan police officials, Horner was conducting an interview on the street when two armed men shot him in the head.

“Police are continuing their efforts to arrest the culprits of the incident,” said an Afghan police statement.

Horner, the South Asia correspondent for the Swedish radio station Sveriges Radio, previously wasbased in New York and London, according to the station's website. He had arrived in Kabul only recently.

No one has been arrested, and the Taliban have not yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

He was “a legend,” said Swedish journalist Terese Cristiansson, “one of the best we have ever had.”

In January, Western expatriates here had hoped the deadly attack on the Lebanese restaurant would prove to be an aberration. Typically, during the course of this 12-year war, the Taliban have chosen to target military bases or high-profile diplomatic installations rather than restaurants or journalists.

But the January attack appeared to be a tactical shift. Among the dead were three Americans, including two employees of the American University of Afghanistan. Three United Nations staff members were also killed.

Horner's killing Tuesday led many to worry that a trend was beginning to emerge, which, if it continues, would keep NGO workers from meeting their Afghan counterparts and hinder journalists' efforts to report thoroughly on the country's upcoming elections and ongoing U.S. withdrawal.

The elections, in particular, are expected to prompt an escalation in violence, as insurgents attempt to disrupt the Afghan political process.

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