UN aid worker killed in Afghanistan blast hails from San Francisco Bay Area

The American who died in a bombing attack of a United Nations vehicle in Afghanistan was identified Tuesday as United Nations aid worker Anil Raj, 35, of Saratoga.

"I want to confirm with a heavy heart that a United States citizen, Anil Raj, of California, was killed in a terrorist attack on a U.N. vehicle in Kabul on Nov. 24," said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. "FIve other civilians were injured, including staff." 

No one immediately claimed responsibility.

Attacks targeting UN personnel working to help the Afghan people are unconscionable, and we condemn this act in the strongest possible terms," Pompeo said.

Neeraj Gupta, a close friend of the victim, told KTVU, "For this type of act to happen is just unfair. 

Gupta, who met Raj when the two attended UC Riverside said, "He was extremely passionate about working for the UN. He was always about international human rights.

Friends described Raj as humble and selfless.

"It's just a loss for words," Gupta said. "We lost a very genuine, kindhearted down-to-earth friend, brother, son."

Gupta said he'd joke with his friend about keeping his passport, if only to keep him from harm's way. But Raj said he wanted to finish his mission.

Friends shared pictures of Raj from his Facebook page as he documented his travels.

But home was calling. Raj had planned to move back to California permanently in May.

Raj was an avid camper and enjoyed spending time with friends at Big Basin Redwoods State Park near Santa Cruz.

The Saratoga High School grad leaves behind his parents, his twin sister and extended family across California and in India.

"The family is devastated, heartbroken, but they still remain positive and keep the prayers - they ask everyone to keep the prayers going," Gupta said.