Fourteen people were killed Thursday when an ISIS-aligned suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest outside a hall in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday. But many more would have died were it not for Afghan Police Lt. Sayed Basam Pacha. Pacha suspected the man was a bomber and told him to stop; when the man started running, Pacha ran to him and gave him what the New York Times refers to as a "bear hug." The man detonated the bomb, killing Pacha and the others and wounding 18 more. Pacha is "a hero, he saved many lives" by blunting the force of the explosion, police spokesperson Basir Mujahed tells the Times.
"My son sacrificed himself to save other people," Pacha's father, Gen. Sayed Nizam Agha, said through tears. Pacha was guarding a political meeting at the hall at the time; high-profile political figures were in attendance. At one point he was inside the hall drinking tea with guests, but he made sure to go back to the gate as people started exiting the event. "Just think if that suicide attacker got past the gate, what would have happened," Mujahed says. "You cannot even imagine." TOLO News reports that since the attack, Pacha's image has been circulating on social media, with government officials and other Afghans calling him a hero. (Read more suicide bombing stories.)