“Lover of life” Anil Raj worked for years to bring peace in Afghanistan.
In a heart-breaking incident Indian American United Nations peace worker Anil Raj was killed in a terrorist attack in Kabul. Remembered to be a “lover of life”, Anil Raj was ironically part of a UN peacekeeping force that was targeted by violence. He was 35.
Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said that a hand grenade was thrown at a UN vehicle on November 24, killing Raj and injuring two UN personnel, among whom one was an Afghan. Details of the incident are not yet available.
Raj graduated from Saratoga High School in 2002 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science from University of California Riverside and a master’s degree in international human rights from University of Denver.
His friends recall him to be a “humble, kind-hearted man”, who was always interested in helping others. His American UNDP colleague, Aaron Spencer, wrote in Facebook: “Anil was an amazingly beautiful soul.” He reportedly worked for many years to drive good times at Sudan and Afghanistan.
The UN mission in Afghanistan has called upon Afghan authorities to swiftly investigate this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Expressing his sorrow over the incident, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “I want to confirm with a heavy heart that a United States citizen, Anil Raj of California, was killed in a terrorist attack on a UN vehicle in Kabul on November 24. There were five other civilians who were injured, including staff.”
Extending his condolences to Raj’s family and friends, Pompeo also sent his “best wishes” for the others who suffered injury.
The worrying character of the attack was that it had targeted UN personnel who were working hard to help Afghans. This is “unconscionable” said Pompeo, who slammed the act “in the strongest possible terms.”
While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, commentators recall that the Taliban as well as Islamic State groups have always swaggered over previous attacks.
According to a recent UN report, the last three months have been the deadliest in the past decade for civilians in Afghanistan. Between July and September, 1,174 civilians have been killed, while 3,139 have been injured.