Ahmed Omid Khpulwak

The BBC called for an investigation in to the death of stringer Ahmad Omid Khpalwak, killed in Afghanistan in July

Credit: BBC

A BBC stringer killed in Afghanistan in July was shot by a US soldier who mistook him for a suicide bomber, Nato has revealed.

Releasing the findings of its investigation into the death of Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force issued a statement to say the reporter was killed "in a case of mistaken identity".

Khpulwak was shot by an ISAF member who believed he was an insurgent that posed a threat and was about to detonate a suicide vest improvised explosive device (IED)."

The report says
Khpulwak was in a room "immediately adjacent" to one where a suicide bomber had just detonated a vest IED, and across from another suicide vest detonation which had occurred moments earlier.

"As the soldier approached he observed a young adult male with a beard with something clinched in one of his fists and reaching for something on his person with his other hand.

"Based on the events of the preceding minutes the soldier assessed the actions as those of a suicide bomber who was taking steps to detonate an IED that posed a lethal threat to numerous soldiers in the immediate area."

The report adds that it was later found that
Khpulwak was unarmed and that rounds perceived to have been coming from his location appeared to have been fired by US soldiers. The BBC reports that Khpulwak was previously taking refuge in a bathroom and may have been reaching for his press pass when he was shot.

But according to the ISAF report, the investigating officer found the soldier involved "complied with the laws of armed conflict and rules of engagement and acted reasonably under the circumstances".

The BBC, which had called for the inquiry into the circumstances of the stringer's death, said it would be studying the details of the findings and awaits a copy of the full report.

"The confusion surrounding the circumstances of Omed's death added to the tragedy felt by his family and colleagues," the broadcaster said in a statement.

"The BBC recognises that ISAF has provided clarification that he was killed by a US soldier, ending a period of uncertainty."

The BBC added that people around the world "are greatly indebted to Ahmed Omed and all his colleagues who have been killed whilst doing their job".

"The loss of Ahmed Omed is a tragedy for his family and friends as well as his colleagues at the BBC," added Peter Horrocks, the BBC's director of global news.

"Ahmed Omed’s death further highlights the great dangers facing journalists who put their lives on the line to provide vital news from around the world.

"It is essential that journalists are given the best possible protection whilst reporting in dangerous situations so that the world can hear their stories.

"Our thoughts are with Ahmed Omed’s family and we will continue to do all we can to support them.”

Khpulwak joined the BBC in 2008 as a stringer and was also working for Pajwak Afghan news agency.

The ISAF expressed its condolences to his family.

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