KABUL (Reuters) - About 200 family, friends and journalists gathered on the outskirts of Kabul on Tuesday to bury a journalist killed in a militant attack on Sunday while assisting an NPR news crew in southern Afghanistan.
Zabihullah Tamanna was killed alongside American photojournalist David Gilkey when the Afghan army Humvee they were riding in was struck by a rocket during a suspected Taliban ambush.
Mourners became emotional as the crowd carried the coffin, draped with green curtains.
“My father was my greatest supporter so now I feel lonely and miss the fun and hardship we shared,” said Tamanna’s 10-year-old son, Mustafa. Tamanna leaves a wife and three children.
“He was like an angel for me,” Mustafa said. “When I heard my father was dead I couldn’t believe it and I said that this is not true. I feel a huge pain. I feel like I am on fire.”
Others expressed anger at the insurgents suspected of firing on the military convoy that carried the NPR team.
“This is not Islam. Islam never says to kill a Muslim or an innocent person,” said Mohammed Yousuf, Tamanna’s brother in law. “Those who committed this act will go to hell and I ask Allah to eliminate all of them not only from Afghanistan but from all over the world where they commit such acts.”
Tamanna’s death while traveling with Afghan troops in Helmand province caps a particularly deadly time for employees of Afghan media companies.
“We have lost ten journalists so far this year and it means that this is a bloody year for journalists in Afghanistan,” said Abdul Mujeeb Khalvatgar, executive director of an Afghan media advocacy group, who criticized all sides of the conflict for not prioritizing press freedom.
The Taliban insurgency has gained strength since the withdrawal of international troops from combat at the end of 2014, with the militants stronger now than any point since they were driven from power by U.S.-backed forces in late 2001.
Writing by Josh Smith; Editing by Nick Macfie