Swedish officers ‘executed’ in Afghanistan

The attack which left two Swedish officers and their Afghan interpreter dead in February has been described as a "pure execution" in an Armed Forces reported on the incident published on Thursday.

The report did not however rule out friendly fire.

“They did not have a chance to defend themselves,” army inspector Berndt Grundevik said.

The Armed Forces have concluded that the three men died of two hails of bullet which lasted for eight to ten seconds.

The attacker was clad in an Afghanistan police officer’s uniform.

Johan Palmlöv, Gunnar Andersson, and Mohammad Shahab Ayouby, fell immediately to the ground when the party was attacked near Mazar-e Sharif on February 7th.

“The three were killed by an initial hail of shots from a lone attacker,” Grundevik said.

“To shoot at stationary people at that distance makes it very hard to miss.”

Following the shots the Swedish troops pursued the fleeing attacker. They shot him, he dropped his machine gun, but got up and tried to keep running.

The soldiers actions could have prevented a massacre, according to Berndt Grundevik.

In recent weeks several Swedish media sources have speculated that the soldiers could have been hit by shots from their own troops, so-called friendly fire.

“We can not rule out stray bullets from the Swedish personnel,” said the head of legal staff, Stefan Ryding-Berg, who otherwise referred to confidentiality.

A third Swedish soldier, a signaller, was injured in both feet.

The firefight left Andersson and Palmlöv mortally wounded and Shahab dead. A helicopter was ordered but the officers were already in a medical transport vehicle and the decision was taken to drive to the hospital in Marmal.

But on the way to Marmal an armoured vehicle got stuck in terrain and the road was blocked. A new helicopter was called in, but while waiting for the helicopter several more Swedish vehicles joined and the convoy was able to continue to its destination, an hour and 35 minutes after the attack.


Spain starts evacuating Afghan employees via Pakistan

Spain was on Monday evacuating via Pakistan Afghan helpers left behind when western forces quit Kabul, a government source confirmed on condition of anonymity.

A group of Afghan nationals stand on the tarmac after disembarking from the last Spanish evacuation flight at the Torrejon de Ardoz air base near Madrid in August. Photo: PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)
A group of Afghan nationals stand on the tarmac after disembarking from the last Spanish evacuation flight at the Torrejon de Ardoz air base near Madrid in August. Photo: PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

The government source declined to give any details of the move, citing security concerns.

But Spanish media, including daily El País and National Radio, reported that Madrid would bring close to 250 Afghan citizens, who had already crossed into Pakistan and would be flown out on military transport planes.

The first flight was expected to arrive on Monday evening.

Spain’s evacuations have been weeks in the making, with Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares visiting Pakistan and Qatar in early September to lay the groundwork.

Madrid evacuated over 2,000 people, most of them Afghans who had worked for Spain and their families, during the western withdrawal as the Taliban seized power in Kabul in August.

But the flights had to stop once the final American troops that had been protecting the Afghan capital’s airport left.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said in August that Spain would not “lose interest in the Afghans who had remained” in their country but wanted to leave.

The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, on Friday urged the bloc’s member states to host a “minimum” of between 10,000 and 20,000 more Afghan refugees.

“To welcome them, we have to evacuate them, and we’re getting down to it, but it’s not easy,” he said in Madrid.

The EU has said a demand by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to take in 42,500 Afghan refugees over five years can be achieved — although any decision lies with member states.