Family, friends and Afghans helped by Japanese physician Tetsu Nakamura mourn his death

The wife of Dr. Tetsu Nakamura, the 73-year-old physician killed earlier this week in a roadside shooting in eastern Afghanistan, wept softly as she stood by her husband’s coffin in a Kabul hospital Friday.

Naoko Nakamura arrived in the capital earlier Friday with her daughter and three of the doctor’s colleagues, including a childhood friend. They will take his body home to Fukuoka on Saturday.

The killing of Nakamura, known as “Uncle Murad” to the villagers whose lives he helped change for the better, has shocked many Afghans across the country. Nakamura was gunned down along with five Afghans on Wednesday as they traveled to the Nangarhar provincial capital of Jalalabad.

The gunmen fled the scene and police say their investigators are still looking for those behind the attack. The Taliban have denied any connection to the slaying.

A Japanese flag was placed nearby Nakamura’s coffin, which was draped in a white cloth and covered with yellow flowers. Uniformed Afghan soldiers stood nearby as the family, accompanied by Japanese Ambassador to Afghanistan Mitsuji Suzuka, paid their final respects.

The Afghan government is expected to hold a memorial service on Saturday to honor Nakamura’s service to the country, where he arrived in 2008 and took the lead in building irrigation infrastructure in eastern Nangarhar province.

Earlier this year, President Ashraf Ghani awarded Nakamura honorary Afghan citizenship. Candlelight vigils have been held across Afghanistan to condemn his killing and on Friday, the governor of eastern Khost province, Mohammad Alim Fedayye, named a square inside the provincial capital after him.

Also Friday, demonstrators protested outside the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul, accusing Pakistan’s intelligence services of involvement in Nakamura’s death. There was no evidence of the allegation. Pakistan and Afghanistan routinely exchange accusations.

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