NZ woman escapes attack that kills nine

Nicola Rounce has worked in many troubled areas.
Nicola Rounce has worked in many troubled areas.
Aid worker Nicola Rounce - a project manager who has lived in some of the world's most dangerous places - has escaped a murderous attack in Afghanistan.

Rounce, known as Nicky, works with the International Organisation for Migration and has spent time in Syria, Sri Lanka and tsunami-ravaged Sumatra.

One of her relatives said Rounce had dual New Zealand and British citizenship.

It was believed Rounce's mother was a New Zealander who emigrated to the United Kingdom in 1968. Rounce moved to Waiheke Island in 2012, according to her Facebook page.

"She's still in Kabul," a relative in England told the Herald on Sunday yesterday. "She went through it all. She's fine."

An employee at Kabul's Serena Hotel, where the attack happened, said Rounce was one of two Kiwis staying at the resort.

He said the other was a man who worked for the United Nations.

Conflicting reports emerged from the carnage, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility. Initially, local authorities said a New Zealand woman was among the nine people killed. But other sources stated a New Zealand woman escaped unharmed, and was debriefed at the New Zealand embassy in Kabul.

"Most of the guests have left the hotel because of this incident that took place last night. It was very dangerous," a hotel employee said yesterday.

Kiwi development consultant Dr David Lupton said security at the hotel was standard for the Afghanistan capital.

"The hotel I stayed at in Kabul was similar. On the road all you see is a high concrete wall and a guard box," he said, recalling a visit in late 2011.

"You go in through an airline-style security set-up and then through a concrete labyrinth."

In Thursday's attack, four teenage gunmen entered the hotel, firing randomly at guests. After a three-hour stand-off, security forces killed the terrorists at 11.30pm Kabul time.

Rounce has battled poverty and worked hard to improve living conditions worldwide.

She contributed to a sustainable finance project ahead of the 2002 United Nations Earth Summit. In 2007, she was helping tsunami-damaged Indonesia by finding suitable homes for 2500 families in Aceh, Sumatra, the Canberra Times said.

- John Weekes, Herald on Sunday

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