Disappearance of Lina Khil: Search continues for 3-yr-old girl who vanished from playground 9 months ago
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS: It has been nine months since three-year-old Afghan girl Lina Sardar Khil has been missing after vanishing from a playground. Khil was last seen at a playground inside the San Antonio-based and gated Villas Del Cabo apartment complex in December 2021.
The New York Times has reported that nine months later, the San Antonio Police Department has no witnesses. They have not received any tangible evidence in her disappearance. Khil and her family, who are from Afghanistan, survived a suicide bombing that killed 13 US soldiers and hundreds of Afghans in 2021. At the time, they were on a family visit.
Lina Sardar Khil's disappearance
Zarmeena Sardar Khil, the toddler's mother, said she remembers letting Khil go out and play with other children on December 20 last year. Zarmeena was watching Khil run around the complex's playground around 5.30 pm. Khil was wearing a black jacket, a red dress and black shoes at the time. Her mother saw the back of her head before she turned away for five minutes. When she turned back, however, she could not locate Khil among the several other children who were playing. She eventually called Riaz after knocking on multiple doors for the next 30 minutes.
Khil's father, Riaz Sardar Khil, was an Afghan soldier who aided US forces. He was reportedly given immigration before Khil'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." After Khil's disappearance, Riaz and Zarmeena reached out to various Afghan community leaders to help search for their daughter.
San Antonio police are being assisted by the FBI in the investigation. William McManus, San Antonio's chief of police, said both the departments have gone through the tips and leads they received during the nine months that the toddler has been missing. All of that, however, has been unsucessful. The circumstances around the case has confused McManus. "I have not talked to anyone about this case, family or law enforcement, that's just not baffled," he 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 is helping investigators in the case. "There's been a few leads that have come in, but nothing solid," she said. Public searches were previously carried out for Khil in the San Antonio area, but they have now been paused as it is believed she is not in the state any longer. A reward of $250,000 will be given to anyone whose tips lead to Khil's discovery.
Riaz was reportedly under the impression that San Antonio was a good place to relocate his family. The city hosts an estimated 2,600 Afghan refugees. Riyaz now works as a truck driver and Zarmeena is involved in a community of Afghan women living in their apartment complex.