Afghans hold candlelight vigil for slain Japanese doctor

Afghans across the country are shocked at the killing of a Japanese physician who was gunned down with five Afghans in a shooting in the country’s east

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghans, shocked at the killing of a beloved Japanese physician who was gunned down along with five Afghans in a roadside shooting the previous day, held a candlelight vigil in the capital Kabul on Thursday.

Scores of activists, carrying banners emblazoned with Tetsu Nakamura’s picture, condemning his death and calling him a hero, gathered in the well-guarded Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood of Kabul, in a square near the Japanese Embassy. Some of the participants carried Japanese flags, while others carried flowers and the Afghan flag.

“When we heard the news yesterday my whole family was crying,” said Farida Nikzad, an activist at the vigil. “The people who did this are the enemies of Afghanistan, who are against the development of this country.”

Nakamura was killed in a roadside shooting Wednesday on his way to Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province. The 73-year-old physician had been in Afghanistan since 2008 and had taken the lead in water projects in rural areas. His services to the people earned him the nickname “Uncle Murad.”

The Taliban issued a statement soon after the shooting denying responsibility for the attack. Police say their investigation is still looking for those behind the attack.

The Taliban control or hold sway over nearly half of Afghanistan, staging near-daily attacks that target Afghan forces and government officials but also kill scores of civilians.

At the vigil, speakers asked the government to name a university or prominent place in eastern Nangarhar province for Nakamura “so that we may always remember him.”

Nakamura had previously been given honorary Afghan citizenship for his work in rural communities. When Nakamura arrived in Afghanistan in 2008 he replaced a colleague who had been kidnapped and killed by Taliban insurgents.

“The vigil shows our respect and love for him and our shame that we couldn’t save him,” said Nikzad, the activist.

Hundreds of social media posts also expressed sorrow and outrage over the attack.

One post carried a drawing of Nakamura with the words: “Sorry we couldn’t save you Nakamura.”