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ISAF Apologises for Strafing TV Man

Veteran Kabul TV worker narrowly escapes death in ISAF shooting incident.
By Hafizullah Gardesh

Mohammad Nazir has worked for Afghan television for 17 years, surviving Soviet occupation, mujahedin infighting and the Taleban era. But on Wednesday night, he nearly met his end at the hands of ISAF, who accidentally strafed the TV van he was working in.

ISAF apologised for the mistake, which it said was caused when a faulty machine gun on one of its armoured personnel carriers went off in the car park of the Intercontinental Hotel next to the Loya Jirga compound. Nazir's vehicle was struck by eight bullets.

"I was inside the van when the van was hit. Some bullets flew less than a metre away from me. I had a narrow escape," he said. "At first I thought it was a terrorist attack by someone who doesn't want the Loya Jirga to succeed."

The burst of machine gun fire shattered the evening calm at the hotel and had ISAF and Afghan troops scurrying like ants whose mound had just been kicked. For half an hour, entrance and exit to the hotel was blocked.

ISAF spokesperson, Elaine Mcleod, said, "We are sorry but it was a mistake. The machine gun malfunctioned and there were technical problems with the gun. But we are happy that nobody was injured or killed."

She said the precise cause of the incident had still not been established.

Mohammad Nazir said Kabul TV was making a video, which it might use to claim compensation. The ISAF said it was considering payment for damage to the vehicle.

Hafizullah Gardesh is an IWPR trainee.

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