A former employee of the British embassy in Kabul has been badly beaten at his home by five armed men, in an attack linked to his 11 years working with UK diplomats in Afghanistan.
The British embassy driver, one of about 150 employees who applied to be evacuated in May, was at home with his family in a village on the outskirts of Kabul last Thursday when five masked men came to his house and attacked him, hitting him with their Kalashnikovs.
The attackers told him they had information he was still working for an international organisation. “I told them I wasn’t. They said: if we find out you are still working for those people, we will come back and kill you and your family,” he said, speaking by telephone through an interpreter.
The driver, 44, who has asked for his name not to be printed, said his children, wife and neighbours saw the attack, and are now too afraid to leave their houses.
X-rays showed his hand had been broken in two places and his skull fractured in three places. He said everyone in the village knew he had worked for the British embassy, and it was impossible to keep it secret. “Children ask each other what their fathers do. Why should they lie about it?” he said.
He did not report the attack to the police, believing that the Taliban-run police would not have helped him.
While he did not know the attackers, he suspected they were affiliated to the Taliban. Five years ago he had been targeted by Taliban militants because of his work with the British embassy, and was told he should leave his job. His son was hit in the head when a gun was fired during that attack, suffering brain damage.
A Taliban patrol in Kabul. The former driver said he did not report his attack as he expected no help from the Taliban. Photograph: Jorge Silva/Reuters
Last month a pregnant Afghan policewoman was reported to have been killed by the Taliban, and there have been many other reports of attacks on people who worked for international organisations and the previous regime. Taliban officials have denied responsibility, citing the amnesty they announced for employees of the previous administration. It is not clear whether these attacks are officially organised and state sanctioned, or the work of fractured groups that know they can act with impunity.
The driver worked for the embassy for 10 years under a contract with G4S and then for 18 months in the same role employed by the Canadian security firm GardaWorld, which took over the embassy contract last year. He and about 150 colleagues applied to be evacuated in May under the UK Ministry of Defence’s Afghan relocations and assistance policy, but his application was refused on the grounds that British embassy employees hired through subcontracted organisations were not eligible for help.
The foreign office reversed that position in August, announcing: “We will help all those Afghan security guards contracted through GardaWorld to protect the embassy. They will be granted the right to enter the UK and we are now working through the challenging logistics of getting them out of Kabul.” However the evacuation process stopped before the guards could leave Afghanistan, with only one guard managing to make it to the UK.
The Foreign Office said: “Our staff worked tirelessly to facilitate the swift evacuation of British nationals, Afghan staff and others at risk. We continue to make every effort to enable those eligible to come to the UK to come here.”
A GardaWorld source expressed regret at the news that a former member of staff had been attacked.
All the British embassy-contracted staff were dismissed in August when the embassy closed, and many are struggling financially. One former embassy guard, who was sacked in May after 12 years’ service, said he and his family had been evicted from their home as they could not pay their rent. “We are passing the most difficult days of our lives both financially and mentally. Please pass on our concerns and difficulties to the relevant authorities and evacuate us before we further plunge into catastrophe,” he wrote in an email.