Anil Raj, an Indian-American aid worker from the Saratoga, Ca. was killed in an attack Nov. 24 on a United Nations vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Raj, 35, was killed in the attack that injured five other civilians, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed while talking to reporters at a news conference in Washington Nov. 26. He said that Raj, a U.S. citizen, was killed in a terrorist attack on a UN vehicle.
No one has claimed responsibility for the Nov. 24 attack, according to media reports.
“I want to confirm with a heavy heart that a United States citizen, Anil Raj of California, was killed in a terrorist attack on a UN vehicle in Kabul on November 24. There were five other civilians who were injured, including staff," Pompeo told reporters.
"We extend our condolences to the family and friends of the victim following this tragic incident and send our best wishes for a speedy recovery for those who were injured," he said, according to news reports.
“Attacks targeting UN personnel working to help the Afghan people are unconscionable, and we condemn this act in the strongest possible terms,” Pompeo said.
The State Department did not provide any other details about Raj.
According to a Mercury News report, Raj graduated from Saratoga High School in 2002 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Riverside and a master’s degree in international human rights from the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies.
“Anil was special,” friend Shehan Jayatilaka, who met him in graduate school, told the newspaper. He described Raj as “brilliant” and highly-regarded at the University of Denver, where he won the Brinser award for Humanitarian Assistance and went on to serve on the Amnesty International board.
“He was an optimist, maybe to a fault,” Jayatilaka was quoted as saying. “He saw good in everyone and everything and couldn’t help but fight for it — especially those who were most vulnerable. He was a friend who called you or emailed you every birthday and every new year to tell you why you matter and why you’re important,” Jayatilaka told Mercury News.
“I personally don’t have many friends like that, and I’m hollowed out by this news.”
According to his LinkedIn profile, Raj joined the UNDP in 2010 as a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration reports officer in South Sudan. He most recently served as a management specialist in Kabul. Active in nearly 170 countries and territories, the agency is focused on ending poverty.
Raj’s family said in a statement, according to the Mercury News report, that he was “a kind and caring son, brother, and friend” who loved camping and hiking, traveling, photography, cooking and spending time with friends and family.