Afghan Journalist Zabihullah Tamanna Breathes His Last In Kabul

NPR's Philip Reeves, who recruited Zabihullah Tamanna to NPR, described him as "a wonderful, compassionate and courageous man."

A 2011 picture of Zabihullah Tamanna. Image Courtesy:
  • Zabihullah Tamanna died due to a Taliban attack on Sunday, June 5
  • Zabi used to work as a photojournalist for a Chinese News Agency, Xinhua
  • NPR Correspondent Tom Browman described Zabihullah as a brave and trustworthy man

Zabihullah Tamanna, an interpreter for the NPR, was killed along with NPR’s very own photojournalist David Kelly last Sunday. The two, who were on an assignment of high importance, were travelling in a highly armored Humvee, which was attacked by a rocket-propelled grenade. The Taliban militants, who have wrecked terror in Afghanistan, are believed to be behind the attacks.

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Zabihullah, who was known as Zabi, worked as a photojournalist for the Chinese news agency Xinhua. More recently, he wrote for Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency. Zabi, as he was popularly called, had also written the high ticket story of the afghan president’s swearing in.

Pentagon correspondent of NPR Tom Bowman and producer Monika Evstatieva were also working on the assignment. Travelling in a separate vehicle, however, they were not injured.

Taliban members. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Taliban members. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

NPR’s Philip Reeves, who recruited Zabihullah Tamanna to NPR, said he had deep respect for the man. Phil wrote in a remembrance letter:

 “He was a tall man with a warm smile, who somehow managed to couple a casual manner with a quiet sense of authority. It soon became clear that he had a great eye for a story, and that people from every level of society simply liked and trusted him, an essential quality in the journalism business.

“Zabi seemed at ease with everyone; he persuaded senior politicians, young male migrants heading to Europe, female victims of war, and many, many more to speak into NPR’s microphone — and, by doing so, to shine a light on their nation’s unending conflict.

“On one unforgettable occasion, he managed to persuade an Afghan people smuggler to sit down and tell us all about his illicit trade over a lunch of grilled chicken and green tea.”

Zabihullah’s loved ones are grief stricken. Even through all the pain, Zabi’s widow, Fawzia Tamanna told NPR, “Please tell the world he was the finest man.”

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the attack “a grim reminder of the danger that continues to face the Afghan people.”

-written by Saurabh Bodas, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @saurabhbodas96




  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Such journalists should be appreciated for their courage and determination

  • devika todi

    the dangers that the Afghan people face are immense. sitting in the safety of our homes, we often forget that.