Security Interpreter Killed in Afghanistan

Published September 30, 2005

| Associated Press

An American supervisor for a U.S. security firm allegedly shot to death his Afghan interpreter after a quarrel this week, Afghan officials said Friday.

Noor Ahmad (search), 37, was shot in the head late Tuesday at a compound of his employer, U.S. Protection and Investigations, at Tut village in Farah province's Gulistan district in western Afghanistan, the officials said.

The American reportedly worked as the local supervisor for USPI (search), a Houston-based company that provides security for foreign contract workers in Afghanistan, including on construction of a U.S.-funded road between the cities of Herat and Kandahar.

"An American guy shot his translator. Next morning, a helicopter came and took the foreigner to Kabul," provincial police chief Allah Udin Noorzai (search) told The Associated Press. Noorzai had no details about who had taken him away, although other officials in the province claimed they were Americans.

The Interior Ministry in Kabul confirmed that a foreigner allegedly had shot an Afghan working for USPI and had been brought to Kabul, but gave no further details, including whether he was in custody or still in the country.

Noorzai said he had sent a criminal investigation team to the USPI compound after the shooting, but his men were blocked from entering by its security guards.

Bill Dupre, USPI's country operations manager in Kabul, said: "USPI does not want to release any statement on this incident at all."

The U.S. Embassy said it was looking into media reports about the case. The American military said it had no information.

Ahmad's relatives claimed the American had shot the Afghan during a late-night party because of a personal grievance against him.

"We want our government to avenge my brother," said Fazel Ahmad, 45, a bank worker in the western city of Herat.

"They shouldn't let him (the American) escape. Americans and all other foreigners are here to help us, not to kill us," he told AP.

Syedo Jan Agha, a local militia commander who is paid by USPI to help provide security for the Herat-Kandahar road with his 250 forces, claimed Ahmad had a reputation for aggressive behavior and drunkenness.

"We had previously complained to USPI about Noor Ahmad. All the time he was drinking. He disturbed bus drivers on the road and even fired his gun," Agha said.

Recounting the incident, Agha said he heard three shots about midnight Tuesday and knocked on the door of the USPI compound but was told to come back the next morning as the presence of troops would only make the situation worse. When he returned the next morning, he said he saw Ahmad's body.

Another foreign USPI employee told him that Ahmad, drunk and armed, had walked into the room of the American while he was sleeping and that there had been an exchange of fire in which the American shot Ahmad.

Foreigners working on civilian projects are generally subject to Afghan law, but the legal status of security contractors is a gray area. U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan come under American military jurisdiction.

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