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Italian beaten to death in Panjsher

Italian beaten to death in Panjsher

Jun 04, 2011 - 12:30

CHARIKARinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): A foreign tourist, said to be an Italian citizen, was beaten to death in the central province of Panjsher after an altercation with locals, officials said on Saturday.

Cristiano Congiu, along with an American woman and an Afghan translator, was vacationing in the Mokni valley of Khenj district in the relatively calm region, northeast of Kabulinfo-icon.

On her way to the valley, the woman on foot bumped into a donkey and fell into a deep gorge, said Inayatullah Toofan, the governor's spokesman. The donkey driver came to her rescue and pulled the woman out of the ravine, he told Pajhwok Afghan News.

The tourist shot injured the villager, who was seen as assaulting the woman, the spokesman said. They were touring the emerald-rich area without informing the local authorities, he said.

Provincial council head, Atta Mohammad Amiri, told Pajhwok Afghan News that residents, outraged by the shooting, thrashed the foreign resident to death. He identified the victim as an American national.

But the Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported the victim was an Italian police officer, who has lived in Kabul since 2007. Citing early official accounts, it said that a young man grabbed the American woman and bumped her "violently" against a wall, and that the Italian then shot at the Afghan with his pistol.

"Locals could not tolerate the incident and attacked the foreigner," witness Mohammad Musa said. The 50-year-old was beaten with sticks before being stoned to death, he added.

The wounded villager, Miftahuddin, is currently under medical treatment at the Panjsher Emergency Hospital. He has received two bullets in his side and hand, according to Dr. Gul Mohammad, the hospital director.

A counternarcotics expert, Lt. Col. Congiu worked at the Italian embassy in Kabul for four years, a source said on condition of anonymity. His assignment came to an end on May 31, four days before travelled to the major tourist destination.

Five people have been detained on the charge of murdering the foreigner, said the provincial police chief, Brig. Gen. Qaseem Jangalbagh. Police have taken the woman into protective custody, pending an investigation into the incident.

Meanwhile, a security official confided to this news agency, a four-member team of Italian investigators was expected to arrive shortly in Kabul to prove Congiu's death.


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