A former Winlock man working as a contractor was one of two killed by a suicide bomber Monday morning in the Afghanistan capital of Kabul, according to his family.
Michael Hughes, who was living in Las Vegas prior to working overseas but grew up in Winlock, had been working as a contractor for DynCorp International for the past three years, according to one of Hughes’ sisters, Kristine Wallace.
“He felt like he could be a part of the change for a better future,” she said. “He loved teaching. He loved the people. He was training (Afghans) to run their own prisons ... He loved the progress being made and the empowerment the people began to feel.”
The identity of the second contractor killed has not been determined.
The suicide bomber rammed a car bomb into a NATO convoy at about 2:30 p.m. local time, killing two foreign civilian contractors in east Kabul, according to The Associated Press.
Both victims were working as advisers on a State Department-funded program to bolster the Afghan corrections system, according to the Los Angeles Times. Both advisers had just left the prison Pul-E-Charki when a Toyota Corolla packed with explosives rammed into the convoy.
Hughes’ family was informed on Monday he was one of the two foreign contractors killed by the suicide bomber attack.
Hughes moved to Winlock as a child. He grew up and attended school there, Wallace said. He will likely be buried in Lewis County.
“He just loved what he did,” Wallace said. “He was helping to train (Afghans) and create democracy there.”
Hughes previously worked as a corrections officer at McNeil Island, she said.
Ashley Burke, a spokeswoman for DynCorp, confirmed both victims killed in Monday’s blast worked for DynCorp International on the Combined Security Transition Command in Afghanistan. She said the names of the individuals killed in Monday’s blast have not been released.
“The company extends its deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives,” she wrote in an emailed statement. “Out of respect for their privacy, and until next of kin have confirmed that we can release personal information, we cannot (provide) any additional information.”
Under the Combined Security Transition Command, DynCorp provides mentoring, training and support to the Afghanistan Ministry of Defense and the Afghan National Army in the process of Afghan agencies assuming full responsibility for their own security forces, according to the e-mailed statement.
An Islamic militant group, Hizb-i-Islami, later claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it intended to drive all foreign forces from Afghanistan, according to The Associated Press.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul told the Los Angeles Times it could not confirm the information but issued a statement condemning the attack.
“We will continue to work with our Afghan and international partners to ensure a peaceful future for Afghanistan,” the statement read.