Deadliest Day for Afghan Media in 15 Years: 10 Journalists Including BBC Reporter, Famed Photographer Among 42 Killed

“This is the deadliest day for Afghan media in the past 15 years,” the head of Tolo News TV, Lotfullah Najafizada, told the BBC.

April 30, 2018 (DESPARDES/PKONWEB) — BBC reporter Ahmed Shah, famed Afghan photographer (AFP chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai) and 8 other journalists were killed among 42 in a series of deadly attacks in Afghanistan on Monday.

A twin bomb blast in Kabul was the deadliest attack on journalists since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, while in another attack in Kandahar 11 children were killed.

Photo by Shah Marai: An Afghan girl scavenges for recyclables, 2011.

The first blast happened at around at 8 a.m. local time in the Shash Darak area of the Afghan capital Kabul, where the US embassy and government buildings are located, prompting journalists to rush to the scene.

The Afghan NATO headquarters, defense ministry as well as the Afghan intelligence service are also located in the area.

The second explosion came as the attacker detonated explosives as journalists huddled around the scene. A suicide bomber disguised as a TV cameraman detonated the second bomb. The coordinated double suicide bombing killed at least 26 people including 9 journalists.

The attacks were claimed by Islamic State (Daesh), saying it targeted the Afghan intelligence headquarters.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty confirmed that three of its journalists were killed in the Kabul attacks.

A tenth journalist was shot dead that day in the country’s Khost province.

It’s believed that media workers were targeted, Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danesh told Reuters, because the second suicide bomber accessed the area by showing police a press pass.

“This is the deadliest day for Afghan media in the past 15 years,” the head of Tolo News TV, Lotfullah Najafizada, told the BBC.

The Afghanistan Federation of Journalists (AFJ) and the country’s media issued a joint statement condemning Monday’s explosions. “This terrorist attack is a war crime and an organized attack on the Afghan media,” the statement read.

“Despite today’s attack and other threats against journalists, the Afghan media is committed to providing information.

“The attack in the heart of Kabul and in the Green Zone indicates a serious lack of security by the government.

“In a joint letter, the Afghan media has called on the International Court of Justice and the UN Security Council to investigate the incident.

Journalists killed in the suicide bombing are as follows:

1. Mahram Durani – Azadi Radio
2. Ebadullah Hananzai – Azadi Radio
3. Yar Mohammad Tokhi – TOLOnews Cameraman
4. Ghazi Rasooli – 1TV Journalist
5. Nowroz Ali Rajabi– 1TV Cameraman
6. Shah Marai – AFP Photographer
7. Saleem Talash – Mashal TV
8. Ali Saleemi – Mashal TV
9. Sabawoon Kakar – Azadi Radio


In a separate attack in the the southern city of Kandahar, where NATO-led forces operate out of a big air base, 11 children were killed and 16 wounded when a suicide bomber drove his explosive-laden van into a foreign-force convoy.

The 11 children, who were killed, were studying in a nearby madrassa, or religious school, said Matiullah Zhman, a spokesman for Kandahar police. In addition, eight members (Romanian soldiers) of the NATO-led Resolute Support coalition were wounded, the force said.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the Kandahar attack.

In a separate attack in the eastern Khost province, a 29-year-old reporter for the BBC’s Afghan service was shot dead by unknown gunmen.

Ahmad Shah, who worked for the BBC’s Pashto language service as well as for Reuters, was killed in the Gulzar area on the outskirts of Khost, according to Talib Mangal, spokesman for Khost’s provincial governor.

In other violence on Monday, insurgents killed at least four Afghan policemen in an ambush in the northern Balkh province. In the eastern Nangarhar province, an explosion killed an Afghan police officer and wounded four other people.

Afghanistan has witnessed a spate of attacks in recent weeks. Days ago at least six people were killed, including two Afghan soldiers, when a car bomb exploded in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province.

On April 22, a suicide blast killed 57 people — including at least five children — and wounded over 100 more at a voter registration center. That attack was preceded by a car bombing in southern Afghanistan in which at least 13 people were killed and 35 others injured.

Under pressure

President Ashraf Ghani’s government is under pressure on multiple fronts this year as it prepares to hold long-delayed legislative elections in October, while its security forces struggle to get the upper hand on the battlefield and prevent civilian casualties.

Officials have acknowledged that security is a major concern because the Taliban and other militant groups control or contest large swathes of the country.

Some Western and Afghan officials expect 2018 to be a particularly bloody year.

General John Nicholson, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, told Tolo TV last month that he expected the Taliban to carry out more suicide attacks this fighting season.

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