‘I thought I might die’: Australian recounts IS attack on tour group in Afghanistan

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun8,2024
An Australian adventure tourist targeted in a deadly shooting in central Afghanistan thought he would die after coming face to face with a gunman from the self-proclaimed Islamic State group (IS).
when the lone attacker opened fire on his tour group in Bamyan, about 200 kilometres west of the capital Kabul, last Friday, killing six people.
Three Spanish travellers and three Afghans were killed and five others, including McDowell, were severely injured.
The IS group — also known as Daesh — has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the Arab News website.
McDowell said he was chatting with his travelling companions in a van in a shopping district when the gunman opened fire.

“It was rapid like ‘bang, bang, bang, bang’ … like firecrackers,” he told AAP on Thursday.

AFGHANISTAN SHOOTING AUSTRALIAN

The Perth man was with a tour group in a shopping district in Bamyan when the attacker opened fire. Credit: AAP Image / Supplied by Carrie McDowell

The Perth engineer said the man, who was armed with an AK-47 Kalashnikov rifle, fired into a shop that some of the group was in before turning on the van.

“Bullets started coming through the windscreen … We were fish in a barrel,” he said.
“I flung the door open and ran … Then I felt a slap on the arse.”
McDowell had been shot in the right buttock from close range as he attempted to escape the hail of bullets but didn’t realise.

“I spun around and he was looking at me, pointing the gun,” he said.

The avid hockey player dropped to the ground and rolled under a car, fearing for his life.
“He came and stood beside the car … and I thought this is where he’s going to squat down and shoot under the car,” McDowell said.
“That was the moment I thought ‘I might die here’.
“I wasn’t scared. It all happened too quickly. I had too much adrenaline.”
The gunman continued firing indiscriminately. Three of McDowell’s tour group who were trapped in the van suffered serious gunshot wounds.

Watching the gunman’s feet, McDowell saw him turn and take a few steps away from the car, allowing him time to “wriggle out” and run to safety down an adjoining alleyway.

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Adventure tourists still visit the ruins of two 1,500-year-old Buddha statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, which were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. Source: AAP / EPA

After the shooting stopped, McDowell walked back to the van and shops where he found a gruesome scene and the bodies of two of the three dead tourists from his group.

“I tried not to step in the blood,” he said.
“We’d only known each other for a couple of days, but when you’re in that sort of environment you become mates quickly.

“It’s just so senseless.”

McDowell and the other survivors were rushed to a local hospital for emergency medical treatment before being transferred to a Kabul hospital, where he underwent surgery to remove bullet fragments from his buttock.
“It hit my arse cheek and burst and left a heap of shrapnel,” he said.
He has since been able to fly out of Afghanistan with his fellow travellers and is expected to return to Australia in the coming days.
McDowell said he had no doubt the gunman, who fled the scene, was targeting tourists.
Multiple foreign tourism companies offer package tours to Afghanistan, often visiting cities such as Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif and Bamyan.

Bamyan is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the remains of two giant Buddha statues the Taliban blew up during their previous rule of Afghanistan in 2001.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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One thought on “‘I thought I might die’: Australian recounts IS attack on tour group in Afghanistan”
  1. My heart goes out to McDowell and all those affected by this horrific attack. It’s truly terrifying to imagine being in such a dangerous situation. Wishing them a speedy recovery and sending strength to cope with the trauma they’ve endured.

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