Development worker killed in Kabul

A fresh hole caused by a bullet is seen on the door of a building in Kabul
A fresh bullet-hole is seen Tuesday in the door of a building where a British aid worker was shot in Kabul.Ahmad Masood / Reuters
/ Source: The Associated Press

Gunmen shot and killed a Briton who worked with Afghanistan’s rural development ministry in a nighttime attack in downtown Kabul that followed a monthslong lull in violence in the city, police and the British embassy said Tuesday.

Steven Blair MacQueen, 41, was killed at about 10:15 p.m. Monday as he drove a pickup truck in front of the main guest house for U.N. workers in Kabul and the Dutch Embassy, Gen. Sher Agha, a Kabul police commander, told The Associated Press.

The British Embassy confirmed the death, and said Blair’s next of kin had been informed.

The motive for the shooting was unclear.

Victim's truck ambushed
Agha said two vehicles, one of them a black landcruiser, had followed the British man’s white, Toyota pickup truck then drove ahead of him and blocked his way. From inside the landcruiser, someone opened fire, killing the man, before driving away.

The man was alone inside the fourwheel driver vehicle, which belonged to the rural development ministry, he said.

A police official, who requested anonymity, said the Blair was shot at least twice in the head and arm.

Agha said police were still investigating the shooting.

A British Embassy official had few details about Blair’s employment, other than that he worked with the rural development ministry and that he was not an employee of the British government.

U.N. spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said the victim was not U.N. personnel.

Shooting breaks relative calm
Since holding its first direct presidential elections in October, Afghanistan has enjoyed a period of relative calm, marked by a decline in attacks by Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents that have plagued restive areas of the south and east.

But in November, three foreign election workers were kidnapped in Kabul by a Taliban splinter group. They were released unharmed a month later.

In December, a Turkish engineer working on a U.S.-sponsored road project was kidnapped and killed by unidentified kidnappers in eastern Kunar province.

Although the three years since the ouster of the Taliban has seen numerous attacks on aid workers in the countryside, there have been few attacks against foreigners in the capital which is patrolled by thousands of NATO peacekeepers.

The bloodiest incidents targeting foreigners in the past year were a car bomb explosion in August outside the office of a U.S. security company that provides bodyguards for President Hamid Karzai, killing about 10 people. In October, a suicide attacker killed an American translator and an Afghan girl on a market street popular with foreigners.