Sunday

13th Jun 2021

EU diplomats in Afghanistan rattled by shooting

  • Usackas: the former Lithuanian foreign minister took up the EU post in February 2010 (Photo: eu2009.cz)

The EU's ambassador to Afghanistan has said his staff are shocked after a bullet hit the window of his office earlier this week.

Recalling the incident on Tuesday (12 April), Vygaudas Usackas told EUobserver from Kabul on Thursday: "I was in my office talking on the phone during a meeting with staff when we heard some kind of strange noise. The moment I finished my conversation, I saw the hole in the window. My staff were shocked. It didn't go through because of the bullet-proof glass, but we quickly got everyone out of this part of the building."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

He added: "I'm not scared. But I'm glad we had the bullet-proof glass or we might not be talking right now."

He noted that the incident is the first of its kind in the EU compound, operated by around 140 staff and home to some 40 EU diplomats and officials.

Usackas said the shooting comes just a few days after a massacre at a UN compound in Mazar el-Sharif, which already alarmed his personnel. A mob last Friday broke into the UN camp and killed seven people after a US cleric in Florida publicly burned the Koran.

"My first concern is my staff. Some of them took it [the EU shooting incident] very emotionally, very sensitively. I think they're doing pretty well, but after Mazar el-Sharif the atmosphere is not good. I have postponed a trip to the Tajikistan border to take care of the investigation and just to try to calm things down."

Usackas noted that the Kabul posting has already seen his life and the lives of colleagues put at risk once before.

The former Lithuanian foreign minister was almost hit by a Taliban rocket while attending a tribal gathering or 'jirga' in Kabul last May. "One rocket landed maybe 70 metres from where I was sitting. Here in Afghanistan you have to go to some events where you know that you might be risk," he said.

A preliminary forensic study of the bullet-hole on Tuesday indicates that it was not a sniper rifle but the bullet has not been found.

The prevailing theory is that fighting between security forces of two rival warlords 400 metres away from the EU compound saw a bullet go astray and hit the window by chance.

The EU generally has a more neutral reputation than Nato, the US or the UN in Afghanistan.

But it is expanding its role from police-training and development aid to political tasks, such as oversight of recent parliamentary elections, with investigators not ruling out a deliberate attack.

The EU compound in Kabul is considered one of the safest places in the city, but EU staff are told to come without their families.

EU men with guns: A comedy of errors

The EU foreign service just did a U-turn on a €50mn tender for bodyguards in Kabul, with leaked documents posing questions how a British firm with a frightening track record won it in the first place.

News in Brief

  1. EU top court fast-tracks rule-of-law case to October
  2. Hungary's Fidesz wants to ban LGBTIQ content for under-18s
  3. MEPs join EU citizens on farm-animal cage ban
  4. Council of Europe urges Russia to release Navalny 'immediately'
  5. China's anti-sanctions law alarms EU businesses
  6. Airlines seek to water down EU passengers' rights
  7. EU leaders join call for further probe into Covid origins
  8. Liberal MEPs under fire over Babiš abstention

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU urges Poland to step back from 'legal primacy' clash
  2. Pressure builds on EU to back WTO vaccine-patent waiver
  3. EU anti-fraud agency cracked down on fake pandemic supplies
  4. MEP office expenses kept secret on dubious evidence
  5. What the EU public think of EU pesticide regulation
  6. MEPs set to take EU Commission to court on rule-of-law
  7. EU takes legal action against Germany on bonds ruling
  8. MEPs demand new EU biodiversity law by next year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us