Saturday

21st Jul 2018

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join 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.

Investigation

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.

EU and Japan wave light in Trump's 'darkness'

EU leaders and Japanese prime minister signed a series of agreements, including the EU's biggest trade deal ever, designed as an answer to the disruption of the world order by the US president.

Opinion

EU must create safe, legal pathways to Europe

As the rapporteur for the European Parliament on an EU regulation on resettlement, my colleagues and I have outlined an effective plan based on solidarity and humanitarian principles.

News in Brief

  1. Libyan PM rejects EU migrant camps idea
  2. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  3. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  4. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question
  5. May to tell EU to drop Irish border 'backstop' idea
  6. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  7. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  8. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us