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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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Afghan Islamists claim murder of Swedish journalist

"Fedai Mahaz Tahrik Islami Afghanistan" said he was a spy

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Nils Horner news

KABUL, Afghanistan - A little known Islamist group in Afghanistan Wednesday said its militants killed a Swedish radio reporter because the dual national, Nils Horner, was a spy for the British intelligence service MI6. he was a spy

The "Fedai Mahaz Tahrik Islami Afghanistan" or the Front of Suicide Attackers' Islamic Movement in Afghanistan said on its website and the Facebook page that the 51-year-old Horner was "not a journalist".

"He was a spy for MI6 he was a special worker of MI6. He was targeted by the Fidai movement," said the brief English-language statement,

The statement attributed to its spokesperson Qari Hamza said that the group shot Horner from behind when he was conducting interviews on the street in central Kabul.

Christian Nilsson, charge d'affaires at Sweden's embassy in Kabul, said the embassy would not comment on rumours about who was behind the killing. "There is a lot of speculation right now with a lot of rumours," Nillson said.

Horner was killed near a restaurant where 21 people, including 13 foreigners, were murdered in a January bomb attack. He was shot while reporting on Afghanistan's election on a street in Kabul on Tuesday.

Sveriges Radio (SR) said he was their South Asia correspondent. "This is one of the worst days in the history of Sveriges Radio," said its CEO Cilla Benk. "Nils was one of our absolute best and most experienced correspondents."

Horner had worked for Swedish Radio since 2001 as a foreign correspondent. The group that claimed the murder describes itself as a splinter group of the Afghan Taliban-led insurgency but the Taliban denied any connection.

The Taliban Tuesday even denied being behind the murder. "This group is not part of the Islamic Emirates. They only try to defame us," said a Taliban spokesman.

The group was formed by loyalists of slain Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah. The group broke with the Taliban following the announcement of talks with the United States.

The group, earlier named the Mullah Dadullah front, also claimed responsibility for the assassination of the former Taliban official Arsala Rahmani, who was trying to help broker a peace deal two years ago.

However, there were little takers for the group's claims about the murder of Horner. An Afghan analyst quoted by the Guardian newspaper said that the claim was "steeped in duplicity".

Michael Semple, the analyst and Taliban expert, said it was impossible to say with any clarity who was behind the murder. "(The front) certainly has this track record of trying to build themselves up," Semple said.

"The publicity that they seek is no doubt part of the strategy of getting money. The group tries to develop itself by getting a high profile for bad actions."

The Guardian newspaper however said that the group does have some history of targeting foreign journalists. Its leader, Haji Najibullah, is said to behind the 2008 kidnapping of the New York Times journalist David Rohde, abducted as he travelled with Afghan colleagues to interview a Taliban commander.

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