Daughter of Briton killed in Kabul attack begs for help to bring mother home

·4-min read
Musa Popal (Family Handout/PA) (PA Media)
Musa Popal (Family Handout/PA) (PA Media)

The daughter of a British shopkeeper who was killed in the terror attack on Kabul airport has begged the UK Government to help bring her mother home.

Zohra Popal broke down in tears as she described the pain of losing her father, Musa Popal, in the blasts that shook the Afghan capital on Thursday.

The 23-year-old said the family feel “ignored” by the Foreign Office which has not made contact since news of his death was confirmed.

Mr Popal, 60, was among three British citizens, including a child, who were killed in the suicide attack.

I’ve never experienced pain like this. I feel like I’m falling to a thousand pieces

Zohra Popal

Mohamed Niazi, 29, an Uber driver from Aldershot, Hampshire was also among the victims.

Ms Popal said she fears for the life of her mother Saleema, 60, who remains in Afghanistan, and members of her family who she believe could be targeted by the Taliban.

She said: “I’ve never experienced pain like this. I feel like I’m falling to a thousand pieces.

“Most of us haven’t slept or eaten in days. I just want to hug my dad once more, and I want to kiss my mother.

“My nephew, Hameed Popal, who is just 14 years old, is still missing after the bomb. And now I’m really worried about my mum and other siblings being targeted by the Taliban.

“I don’t think any of us could take another loss.”

Hameed Popal (Family Handout/PA) (PA Media)
Hameed Popal (Family Handout/PA) (PA Media)

Mr Popal was a British-Afghan who moved to the UK in 1999. He had been running the Madeena Supermarket in Hendon, north London, for more than 20 years.

He and his wife flew to Kandahar in south Afghanistan in June to visit family, including their son and daughter who still live in the country.

Amid rising tensions after the Taliban takeover, they travelled to Kabul airport.

Mr Popal is said to have been waving his British passport at American soldiers at the gate when the blast happened.

His daughter said: “My mother, she had to crawl away, covered in blood and pieces of people. She saw everything.

“There was blood everywhere, she told us, and they were slipping in it when they were trying to get up.

We can’t get through to the Foreign Office. Their number is constantly engaged. We feel completely ignored

Zohra Popal

“It was so loud that some of them are still deaf and can’t hear each other. It was a living nightmare for them.

“Had we known anything like this would happen, we wouldn’t have let them go.”

Mrs Popal, who was watching from a distance, was uninjured, but their grandson Hameed, who was standing with Mr Popal, remains missing.

“My mum, she has no documents now because my dad was holding everything when he died,” Ms Popal said.

“She and the rest of my family are still in danger, and we still might lose them. And yet we can’t get through to the Foreign Office.

“Their number is constantly engaged. We feel completely ignored.

“But we must get them to safety. I can’t live without them. We need the Government’s help.”

(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)

Ms Popal, who moved to the UK in 2014, attended the College of North West London and wants to become a computer scientist.

She said her father had “given us everything”, was “loving” and “supportive”, and had always helped her with assignments.

She added: “I think of my 21-year-old niece Harifa, who was excited to go to university and become a doctor, and I am so sad. She’s really scared now and with the Taliban she won’t be allowed to do anything.

“Our country has been ruined and people’s futures taken from them, and their lives.”

Mr Popal’s remains were found in an emergency room of a hospital in Kabul. Because of his injuries, his family in the UK were only shown a video of his feet and shoes. He has since been buried in Afghanistan in a ceremony attended by hundreds who knew him.

Judith Hirson, 67, a neighbour of Mr Popal in London, said: “He was a friendly man and just really lovely. Honest and hard-working too, the whole family are.

“It’s such a sad situation for everyone, especially those who knew him.”

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