At least one Bangladeshi national is among the nine killed in a Taliban attack on a high profile luxury hotel near the presidential palace in Kabul of Afghanistan on Thursday.
The victim has been identified as Wasim Alimuzzaman, better known as Wasim Zaman, 65, hailing from Gopalganj. He retired from a United Nations job a couple of years back and joined a Malaysia-based non-government organisation, relatives confirmed.
According to a New York Times report, another Bangladeshi national might also have been killed in the attack but that could not be confirmed till last night.
Contacted over the phone, Sharfuzzaman Jahangir, a cousin of Wasim Zaman, told The Daily Star yesterday evening that Wasim, who was executive director of the International Council on Management of Population Programmes, Malaysia reached Kabul on Wednesday, just a day before the attack, for official purposes.
Wasim was a former director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for South Asia region.
His wife is living in Malaysia while three of the couple's daughters live in the United States, Jahangir added.
Jahangir said, “Initially, we also heard about deaths of two Bangladeshis, including Wasim, but the report of two deaths was yet to be confirmed.”
Wasim's father Wahiduzzaman was a former commerce minister of undivided Pakistan.
The attack claimed the lives of nine civilians, including at least four expatriates including the Bangladeshi national.
According to reports of various news agencies, the Afghan victims included Sardar Ahmad, a journalist of AFP, along with his wife and two daughters. Ahmad's son was shot in the head, chest and leg and was reported to be in critical condition.
A raid on the Serena Hotel, which was largely used by visiting foreign dignitaries and diplomats, has highlighted the militants' ability to penetrate and conduct strikes in an area regarded as the most secure oasis in Kabul.
The authorities initially said that four teenage gunmen were killed in the attack, and it took at least seven hours for officials to acknowledge that the toll also included the nine civilians.
The attack on the Serena follows an assault in January that killed 21 guests, 13 of them foreigners, in a Lebanese restaurant in Kabul's diplomatic enclave.
In the Serena attack, Afghan officials said they were stunned by how the four assailants managed to get their weapons -- small pistols hidden in their shoes and socks -- past a gantlet of three separate lines of hotel security, including body searches and screening machines.
The Afghan authorities said they were investigating whether hotel guards had any hand in the attack.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said in an e-mail that his group was behind the attack.
The Taliban had information that nationals of “occupying countries,” as well as Afghan government officials and some “corrupt” lawmakers, were at the hotel to celebrate the Afghan new year, he said.
In a statement released by the presidential palace, President Hamid Karzai said that “this admissible and inhumane act is the work of the enemies of the Afghan people who do not want security and lasting stability in our country.''
An Interior Ministry spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, said the attack on the hotel, following the restaurant attack and the killing last week of a foreign journalist, represented a “new trend.”
He said the strikes were part of an effort to sabotage the country's April 5 presidential election, which the Taliban has vowed to derail.
Sediqqi said the attackers entered the Serena disguised as guests, then later opened fire on diners at the hotel restaurant.