Afghans across the country have been shocked at the killing of Japanese physician Tetsu Nakamura, who was fatally shot along with five other Afghans during in a roadside attack on Wednesday in the eastern province of Nangarhar.
A candlelight vigil has been planned in the capital, Kabul, later on Thursday.
The 73-year-old physician, who had been in Afghanistan since 2008, took the lead in water projects in rural areas. His services to the people earned him the nickname ”Uncle Murad”.
Hundreds of social media posts expressed sorrow and outrage over the attack in the South Asian country.
One post carried a drawing of the physician, with the words beneath the drawing reading: “Sorry we couldn’t save you Nakamura.”
Born in western Japan, Nakamura trained as a doctor and answered a 1984 recruitment call to work in a clinic treating leprosy in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.
He began treating Afghan refugees who were pouring over the border in the wake of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which led to him opening a clinic in that country in 1991.
Following a devastating 2000 drought which brought scores of starving and ill people to his clinic, he first helped in digging bore wells and then came up with the idea of an irrigation canal, inspired by similarities between the Japanese and Afghan rivers.
The construction of the canal began in 2003, the same year Nakamura was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award, often called Asia’s Nobel.
After six gruelling years of labour, much of it by hand and in temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius, the canal was finally completed.
Some 16,000 hectares (40,000 acres) of desert have since been brought back to life, making Nakamura such a widely revered figure in Afghanistan that earlier this year, he became the first foreigner to be awarded Afghan citizenship.
The Taliban group issued a statement soon after the shooting, denying responsibility for the attack. Police say their investigation is still looking for those behind the attack.