Three-year-old Afghan girl who survived bombing vanished from Texas playground without a trace nine months ago – after mom took her eyes off toddler for five minutes
A 3-year-old girl who survived a suicide bombing in Afghanistan has been missing for nine months since she vanished from a playground by her family’s apartment. Lina Sardar Khil was last seen at a playground inside the San Antonio-based and gated Villas Del Cabo apartment complex in December 2021. The San Antonio Police Department does not have any witnesses or tangible evidence in her disappearance, according to The New York Times.
Khil, (pictured) whose family is from Afghanistan, survived a bombing that killed 13 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of Afghans in the summer of 2021 during a family visit. Her father, Riaz Sardar Khil, was an Afghan soldier who aided U.S .forces and was granted immigration prior to Lina’s birth. ‘We came from Afghanistan to have a happy and safe life here, but it didn’t happen,’ Riaz said. ‘My whole life was ruined.’
The FBI has joined San Antonio police in the investigation into Lina’s disappearance. San Antonio’s chief of police, William McManus, says both departments have sifted through all tips and leads up to the nine-month mark of the toddler’s disappearance, all of which have been unsuccessful. He said he has been confused by the circumstances surrounding her kidnapping.
‘I have not talked to anyone about this case, family or law enforcement, that’s just not baffled,’ McManus said. ‘Nobody vanishes into thin air, and I don’t believe that Lina did either. I never give up. I don’t think the police ever give up on a case.’ Pamela Allen, a family spokesperson, told KENS5 that a private investigator has also been hired to assist investigators. ‘There’s been a few leads that have come in, but nothing solid,’ she said. Pictured: Lina with her father, Riaz.
Public searches for Lina in the San Antonio area have been paused, as it is now believed she is no longer in the state. Allen has urged all locals to continue wearing buttons with Lina’s face on it and to post flyers describing her appearance. ‘We’re believing that someone will say something that will lead out to be a good tip,’ Allen said. A $250,000 reward is available to anyone who is able to provide information leading to Lina’s whereabouts.
Lina’s mother, Zarmeena Sardar Khil, said she remembers letting her daughter out to play with other children on the day she went missing. Around 5:30 p.m., Zarmeena was watching Lina, who was wearing a black jacket, a red dress and black shoes, run around the complex’s playground. She saw the back of Lina’s head before she turned away for five minutes. When she turned around, she couldn’t find Lina among the dozen-plus children. She then knocked on every door for the next 30 minutes before calling Riaz. Pictured: Pamela Allen, a spokesperson for the Sardar family.
‘I kept thinking Lina would appear,’ she said. Both Riaz and Zarmeena then reached out to several local Afghan community leaders to aid in their search for their daughter. ‘Our community does not trust the authorities,’ said Lawang Mangal. ‘He did not know what to do.’ After an hour into Lina’s disappearance, Mangal urged the Sardar family to call the police.
Local Afghans with similar stories to Riaz say Lina’s story has instilled fear in them in the nine months since she vanished. ‘We came here looking for peace, stability, security for our children,’ said Amir Mohammad Amiri. The apartment complex in San Antonio is located an hour and a half from Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed in a May school shooting.
‘I keep my eyes on them all the time,’ Aminullah Amir said of taking his four children to the park. ‘I am scared they will disappear like Lina. We always thought America was safe. Now, we are not too sure.’
Riaz believed San Antonio was a good place to relocate his family, as the city is home to an estimated 2,600 Afghan refugees. He currently works as a truck driver while his wife has become entwined in a community of Afghan women who live in their apartment complex. Pictured: Lina’s father, Riaz.
Anyone with information regarding Lina’s disappearance are urged to call the Missing Person Unit’s number at 210-207-7660.
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