Tue, May 01, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Dozens die in ‘organized attack’ on Afghan media

The Guardian, HERAT, Afghanistan and ISLAMABAD

Security forces run from the site of a suicide attack in Kabul yesterday.

Photo: AP

At least 36 people have died in Afghanistan after a coordinated double suicide bombing in Kabul claimed by the Islamic State group and a separate suicide car attack aimed at a NATO convoy in Kandahar Province.

A suicide attacker riding a motorbike blew himself up at about 8am among students in Shash Darak neighborhood, central Kabul, according to the state-run Bakhar news agency.

A second bomber, posing as a journalist, struck within 20 minutes, as media workers went to the area near the NATO headquarters and the US embassy to report on the first blast.

At least 25 people were killed and 45 injured as the result of the twin attacks in the capital.

Nine media staff, including a camera operator for a local TV station and an Agence France-Presse (AFP) photographer, were among those killed. Four police officers also died.

Hours later, a suicide bomber targeting a NATO convoy in southern Kandahar Province killed 11 children at a religious school near where the explosion occurred. At least 16 people, including five Romanian NATO soldiers, nine civilians and two police officers, were also wounded.

The attacks in Kabul proved particularly deadly for journalists. AFP reported that its chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai, was among those killed. Sediqullah Tawhidi, an official from the Afghan Journalist Safety Committee, said a camera operator from the local network Tolo TV was killed.

“This is a devastating blow for the brave staff of our close-knit Kabul bureau and the entire agency,” AFP global news director Michele Leridon said. “We can only honor the strength, courage and generosity of a photographer who covered often traumatic, horrific events with sensitivity and consummate professionalism.”

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said three of its journalists were also killed. They were named as Abadullah Hananzai, Maharram Durrani and Sabawoon Kakar, a photojournalist and camera operator, who was wounded at the scene, but died in the hospital.

“This terrorist attack is a war crime and an organized attack on the Afghan media,” a statement by the Afghanistan Federation of Journalists said, demanding an investigation by the UN. “The attack in the heart of Kabul and in the Green Zone indicates a serious lack of security by the government.”

Afghan presidency spokesperson Shahhussain Murtazawi condemned the twin attacks, saying: “The criminal terrorists once again hit Kabul and Nangarhar, and committed crimes against humanity, during which a number of civilians have been martyred and injured.”

The US embassy in Kabul also condemned the double suicide bombing.

“Where media are in danger, all other human rights are under greater threat,” it said.

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