Wed, Nov 08, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Gunmen storm TV station in Kabul, kill one

AFP, KABUL

Gunmen yesterday stormed a television station in Kabul killing at least one person in an ongoing attack, officials said, in the latest deadly assault targeting Afghan journalists.

The militants were firing rocket propelled grenades at heavily armed security forces surrounding Shamshad TV, a photojournalist said, as some staff remained trapped inside the building.

Security forces were trying to blast their way through a wall of the compound in order to enter the Pashto-language broadcaster, which had gone off the air and was transmitting only a holding image.

“I saw three attackers on security cameras entering the TV station building. They first shot the guard and then entered the building. They started throwing grenades and firing,” said Shamshad TV reporter Faisal Zaland, who escaped through a back door.

A photojournalist saw security forces helping two employees escape the compound. Gunshots could be heard inside the building every few minutes as more and more security forces swarmed the area.

“A group of armed men have entered the building and security forces are fighting them,” Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid said. “The security forces have been able to rescue a large number of Shamshad TV staff. Initial information on casualties shows at least one guard has lost his life.”

Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs spokesman Najib Danish said as many as three attackers were involved in the assault.

“The security forces have been able to bring one down and the operation is ongoing,” Danish said, adding that “most” staff have been rescued.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility in the attack, but in a statement on Twitter, the Taliban swiftly denied involvement.

Violence against Afghan journalists surged in the first half of this year, a media watchdog said in July.

Last year was the nation’s deadliest on record for journalists, according to AJSC, with at least 13 media workers killed — 10 by the Taliban. That made it the second-most dangerous place for reporters in the world after Syria.

It was the first major attack on an Afghan media organization since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001, and spotlighted the dangers faced by media workers in Afghanistan as the security situation worsens.

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