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Afghanistan bids farewell to slain Japanese physician

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani led a memorial Saturday in the capital Kabul to bid a final farewell to the slain Japanese physician killed earlier this week in a roadside shooting in eastern Afghanistan that also killed five Afghans, who were traveling with him.

Dr. Tetsu Nakamura was affectionately known as “Uncle Murad" by villagers in eastern Afghanistan, where he had led in the development of water and agricultural management projects since his arrival in Afghanistan in 2008.

President Ghani joined Afghan National Security soldiers in carrying the Nakamura's coffin draped in an Afghan flag to the awaiting aircraft.

The coffin of Japanese physician Tetsu Nakamura is loaded into a plane after a ceremony at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Nakamura was killed earlier this week in a roadside shooting in eastern Afghanistan. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

Nakamuro's wife, Naoka and daughter, Akiko, had traveled to Afghanistan along with three of his colleagues, to accompany his body home to Japan.

Ghani called the death of Nakamura a big loss to the people of Afghanistan and promised that national police would search and arrest the killers. He called Nakamura, to whom he had earlier given honorary Afghan citizenship, a hero.

Nakamura's killing shocked many Afghans and candlelight vigils were held throughout the country. Giant posters emblazoned with his picture still adorn parts of the capital.

From right, Naoko Nakamura, wife, and, Akiko Nakamura, daughter of slain Japanese physician Tetsu Nakamura stand during a ceremony before transporting his body to his homeland, at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Nakamura was killed earlier this week in a roadside shooting in eastern Afghanistan. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

Hundreds of social media posts in Afghanistan expressed sorrow and outrage over the attack. One post carried a drawing of the Japanese physician, with the words: “Sorry we couldn’t save you Nakamura.”

Authorities in eastern Nagrahar province where the shooting occurred said they had received intelligence earlier that Nakamura may be targeted in an attack and had warned Nakamura to be particularly cautious. Nakamura was traveling with three guards when he was killed. His guards also died.

The Taliban issued a statement soon after the shooting denying responsibility. The Islamic State affiliate also operates in the area but until now no one has taken responsibility for the killings.

From right, fourth Naoko Nakamura, wife and fifth, Akiko Nakamura, daughter of slain Japanese physician Tetsu Nakamura stand during a ceremony before transporting his body to his homeland, at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Nakamura was killed earlier this week in a roadside shooting in eastern Afghanistan. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

The coffin of Japanese physician Tetsu Nakamura is loaded into a plane after a ceremony at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Nakamura was killed earlier this week in a roadside shooting in eastern Afghanistan. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, speaks, next to the coffin of Japanese physician Tetsu Nakamura during a ceremony before transporting his body to his homeland, at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Nakamura was killed earlier this week in a roadside shooting in eastern Afghanistan. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan honor guards carry the coffin of Japanese physician Tetsu Nakamura during a ceremony before transporting his body to his homeland, at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Nakamura was killed earlier this week in a roadside shooting in eastern Afghanistan. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

The coffin of Japanese physician Tetsu Nakamura is loaded into a plane after a ceremony at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Nakamura was killed earlier this week in a roadside shooting in eastern Afghanistan. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, foreground, and Afghan honor guards carry the coffin of Japanese physician Tetsu Nakamura during a ceremony before transporting his body to his homeland, at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Nakamura was killed earlier this week in a roadside shooting in eastern Afghanistan. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, foreground, and Afghan honor guards carry the coffin of Japanese physician Tetsu Nakamura during a ceremony before transporting his body to his homeland, at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Nakamura was killed earlier this week in a roadside shooting in eastern Afghanistan. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)