What seemed like a routine traffic stop on February 14, 1979 turned into a harrowing kidnapping that later claimed the life of Adolph Dubs, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. The 29-year career diplomat, known by his nickname, Spike, was en route to his office when he was stopped by apparent Afghan police officers who took him hostage. The four men brought him to the Kabul Hotel and issued a demand that three insurgent Muslim leaders be released in exchange for Dubs’ freedom.
Afghan security forces, guided by Soviet advisers, stepped in to mediate, but talks broke down. Forces stormed the hotel room, and after a barrage of gunfire that TIME described as “‘a complete holocaust’ of gunfire and explosions,” Dubs was found dead. It was unclear if he had been shot by security forces or the terrorists, and nothing has since been proven.