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According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), at least nine journalists were killed and six others were badly injured in a double suicide bombing this morning in Kabul, in which the second explosion deliberately targeted reporters. It was the deadliest attack on the media since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.
In all, at least 25 people were killed by the two explosions in the central Kabul district of Shash Darak. All the journalists were less than 30 years old. Islamic State issued a statement shortly afterwards claiming responsibility.
“We know that the Afghan government is involved in protecting journalists but it must continue its efforts to provide security and training,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “We have formally referred this case to the United Nations secretary-general. It is high time that the UN sent a strong signal to the international community and to local protagonists by appointed a Special Representative for the protection of journalists.”
The two bombs were set off at a street checkpoint near the headquarters of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency. The victims of the first of the two explosions, at around 8:30 a.m., were mostly ordinary civilians. The second bomb was set off half an hour later, after reporters had arrived at the scene.
The second blast killed ToloNews cameraman Yar Mohammad Tokhi, three Radio Azadai (Radio Free Europe) journalists (Ebadollah Hananzi, Sabvon Kakeker and Maharam Darani), two TV1cameramen (Ghazi Rasoli and Norozali Rajabi, aka Khamoush), AFP photographer Shah Marai Fezi, Mashal TV reporter Salim Talash and Mashal TV cameraman Ali Salimi.
The journalists who were badly injured included Naser Hashemi of Al Jazeera, Omar Soltani of Reuters, Ahmadshah Azimi of Nedai Aghah, Ayar Amar of the weekly Vahdat Mili and Davod Ghisanai of the privately-owned TV channel Mivand.
Today’s bombing killed more journalists than any other single attack since the fall of the Taliban government in December 2001. A suicide car bombing in January 2016 targeting a Tolo TV minibus killed seven of the privately-owned TV channel’s employees.
According to RSF’s tally, a total of 34 journalists and media workers have been killed since the start of 2016 in attacks by Islamic State and the Taliban, which are both on RSF’s list of press freedom predators.
RSF offers its condolences to the families and colleagues of the victims of today’s double-bombing.
RSF has published Pashto and Persian-language versions of the new edition of its Safety Guide for Journalists, Safety Guide for Journalists,which is intended for reporters operating in troubled regions. The guide was produced in partnership with UNESCO.
Afghanistan is ranked 118th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.