Accessibility links

Breaking News

Survivor Recalls Deadly Attack At Kabul Guesthouse

Zainullah says he called his wife with one request: If I die, look after our children.
Zainullah says he called his wife with one request: If I die, look after our children.

Lying on his back, injured and deeply traumatized, Zainullah fights back emotions as he recounts the horrific events of May 13, when a gunman opened fire on him and other diners at a Kabul guesthouse.

He is speaking from an emergency hospital in the Afghan capital, Kabul, where he is being treated for chest and leg wounds. Two of Zainullah's friends were less fortunate; they are among the 14 people killed in the attack on the Park Palace Guest House in Kabul's upscale Kolola Pushta neighborhood.

With close-cropped hair and carefully groomed designer stubble, Zainullah describes how a young man in black entered the restaurant and sat down to dinner.

Zainullah, who was at the guesthouse for a seminar, says the man ordered food and quietly ate while listening to a conversation at the next table, where a pair of foreigners was dining.

After he finished his food, the man stood up and took out a pistol and started firing at the guests, recalls Zainullah, who says the gunman first targeted Italian guests.

"He had an ammunition pouch on his waist," he says, "He would quickly reload his gun when he would run out."

The gunman moved to another table and kept shooting. He shot dead two of Zainullah's friends who were sitting at the table with him. Zainullah says the man shot him once in the chest and twice in the legs, knocking him from his chair but leaving him conscious.

Zainullah says he could barely breathe as he took in the horrific scene. He was surrounded by dead bodies and blood, with a cold-blooded gunman seemingly free to do as pleased.

He says the gunman briefly left the restaurant, located on the second floor of the guesthouse.

Zainullah says he heard the shooter moving furniture, apparently to block the entrance to keep the Afghan police from getting in.

After a few minutes, the gunman returned and started checking his victims to make sure they were dead. "He would shoot at those who were still breathing," Zainullah says.

The gunman then moved toward the table where Zainullah and his two friends had been sitting.

Zainullah covered his eyes with blood from his injuries.

The man noticed that his two friends were lying dead. He took Zainullah for dead as well.

The horror continued for hours before Afghan special forces managed to get in, reportedly killing the gunman.

Kabul deputy police chief Sayed Gul Agha Rohani later said that three attackers, apparently wearing suicide vests, had been killed by Afghan forces.

Among the foreigners killed in the attack were an American, a British-Afghan dual citizen, an Italian, and four Indians.

Miraculously, 54 guests were rescued from the guesthouse, 45 of them foreigners.

Zainullah says he called his wife with one request: If I die, look after our children, he told her.

From his hospital bed recounting the evening, Zainullah fills with anger, saying the Afghan government should not seek reconciliation with "those who have no respect for human life."

Written by Golnaz Esfandiari based on an interview conducted by RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reporter in Kabul, Weda Baraki