An Afghan police officer has been called a “hero” for using himself as a human shield when confronted with a suicide bomber.
Police Lt. Sayed Basam Pacha was guarding a hall crowded with dignitaries when a man refused to stop when asked, running toward the crowd.
Despite the risk of the suspect being a suicide bomber, Pacha threw his arms around him.
And indeed, a second later the bomber detonated an explosive vest, killing 14 people—including Pacha. Seven other police officers and six civilians were killed.
Basir Mujahed, a police spokesman, said 18 others were wounded, but the number would have been much higher without Pacha’s self-sacrifice.
“He’s a hero, he saved many lives,” he told The New York Times. “All seven of those policemen are heroes but especially him. Just think if that suicide attacker got past the gate, what would have happened—you cannot even imagine.”
Pacha’s father, Sayed Nizam Agha, wept as he told what happened to his son.
“My son sacrificed himself to save other people,” he said. “He had two bachelor degrees, one in political science and another one at the police academy. He studied five years in Turkey. He came back from Turkey a year and a half ago. He was 25 years old and he was single. He has three brothers and one sister. He and I are the only police in our family. He was a very sporty guy.”
The Islamic State in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the attack, while the Taliban denied their involvement.
A man at the gathering told AFP that he saw “many bodies including police and civilians lying in blood.”
“After lunch as we were exiting the hall a huge explosion shook the hall, shattering glass and causing chaos and panic,” he said, according to The Telegraph.
Pacha had been on duty in Kabul for a year and a half and had received a commendation from superiors.
Friend Sayed Najib Asil spoke warmly of him.
“He was always worried about victims, but he never thought that one day he would get killed,” he said. “He wanted to make changes here, he had an opportunity to leave and go live abroad, but he rejected it. He really hated corruption, and felt bad when people assumed that all policemen are corrupt. He had very big dreams for himself. He wanted to be a general like his father, and maybe one day a high ministry official.”
Asil added, “I wasn’t surprised when I heard he had hugged the suicide attacker. He was a very brave guy.”
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