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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 August 2005, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Family's sorrow for Afghan Tube victim
By Andrew North
BBC News in Mazar-i-Sharif

Fahim Sharif

Atique Sharif from Afghanistan moved to London to escape the violence of the Taleban regime.

Instead he became one of the victims of the Russell Square Tube bomb on 7 July. BBC News spoke to his brother in Afghanistan about the family's tragic loss.

"I always kept in touch with my brother. On 7th July, when the bombings happened in London, straight away I tried to call him, but the mobile said 'the mobile is switched off'."

Fahim Sharif will always remember that day.

Not for another 10 days did he get confirmation his brother Atique had been killed in the attacks - because of the time it took investigators to identify his body, and then to track down his family here in northern Afghanistan.

In a multi-national city like London, it was hardly surprising the victims came from all over the world.

But the story of Atique is possibly the cruellest to emerge from the 7 July bombings.

He'd fled to London to escape Taleban and al-Qaeda-controlled Afghanistan, hoping for a new life.

Instead, Atique died in one of the suicide attacks on the London Underground.

Escape abroad

The Taleban had killed his father in the late 1990s. His mother died soon afterwards, of a heart attack.

Most of the people preferred to leave Afghanistan at that time because of the bad conditions
Fahim Sharif

"Atique was so shocked," remembers Fahim, when the BBC visited him at his home in Mazar-i-Sharif.

"He couldn't tolerate staying in Afghanistan. But not only Atique, but most of the people preferred to leave Afghanistan at that time because of the bad conditions."

Mazar suffered heavily under the Taleban - paying a heavy price for resisting the movement's advance in 1996 with the Taleban killing thousands of its citizens in revenge the following year.

The economy collapsed. There was little work for the Sharifi family. And Atique saw escape to the UK as his only chance for a better life for himself and his relatives.

In the UK, he got a job and started to study.

He was learning English at a London college and doing well, according to his teachers.

Body returned

Atique sent small amounts of money back to pay for his sister Ferishta to study. In accordance with Afghan tradition, the family asked us not to film her.

But Fahim said she had been hit hardest by her brother's death.

"Since that day, she is crying all the time," he said. "She can't eat. She is losing weight."

Asked his reaction to the attacks in London, Fahim said, "We condemn this kind of action. It is not lawful in Islam, to kill innocent people."

Fahim Sharif standing by the grave of his brother
It took investigators 10 days to track down the family

But he said his brother's death was fate.

"This is written the day we are born to our mother. God has decided."

It was several weeks after the bombing that Atique's body was finally brought back to Afghanistan.

He was buried in a small, sheltered graveyard not far from the family home.

But the mourning continued for several days afterwards, with friends and relatives coming from across the country to pay their respects.

What also hurts the family is that, in Mazar-i-Sharif at least, life is starting to get better.

It's the main city in northern Afghanistan, and security here has been far better than in the southern and eastern areas where Taleban attacks continue.

After all the years of war and turmoil, it still has a long way to go. But to the Sharifi family, it seems safer now than London.

  • Andrew North's report on this story was shown on the BBC News at Ten O'Clock on Thursday 4 August.



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