2 Canadians killed in shooting at Afghanistan hotel identified
Published Friday, March 21, 2014 9:39AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 21, 2014 5:00PM EDT
Two Canadian women killed in a mass shooting at the Kabul Serena Hotel in Afghanistan on Thursday evening have been identified.
They were among a total of nine people who died in the attack, including an Afghan journalist with the French news agency Agence France-Presse, his wife, and their two children. Six others were injured.
The Canadians were identified as Zeenab Kassam, of Calgary, who was volunteering as an English teacher, and Dr. Roshan Thomas, who worked as an optometrist from Vancouver.
Thomas, who had three grown children, began volunteering in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan in 1999. She and her ophthalmologist husband established an eye clinic in Karachi that served Afghan refugees and populations of marginalized Pakistanis.
Later, they opened a school in Kabul and worked to promote early childhood development.
On Friday morning, Sen. Mobina Jaffer tweeted that Thomas was a friend and that she and her husband “worked hard for the betterment of Afghanistan.”
“Rohan (sic) #Thomas in true Canadian spirit worked hard especially for education of #Afghan girls a great Canadian who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Jaffer tweeted.
She added that Thomas dearly loved her family and was expecting her first grandchild.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird condemned Friday’s shooting rampage, calling it an example of how people working in Kabul to help the Afghan people are under attack.
Reports say four armed gunmen entered a restaurant at the Kabul hotel, which was packed with Afghans celebrating the eve of the Persian New Year, Nowruz. The gunmen pulled out pistols and began shooting diners in the head.
Police killed all four attackers after a three-hour standoff.
The attack surprised many because the Serena Hotel was seen as one of the best-protected sites for civilians in the capital.
The Foreign Affairs statement said Canadian diplomats in Kabul are working with Afghan to gather additional information and offered condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed and injured,” the statement said.
“Many of these people dedicated their lives to helping everyday Afghans build a better country for themselves, including education, and enhancing the role of women and girls in Afghan society,” the statement read.
“For this selfless work to be met with violence, especially on the occasion of Nowruz, just further proves the depravity of the Taliban and those who support them.”
This is the second time this year that Canadians have died in Kabul. In January, two Canadian accountants were among 21 victims of a suicide bombing at a restaurant popular with foreign nationals in the capital.
Martin Glazer of Gatineau, Que., and Peter McSheffrey of Ottawa, worked for the Quebec accounting firm Samson & Associates and were in Afghanistan to do auditing work for the Canadian International Development Agency.
With reports from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press