Outrage after bloody day for Afghan journalists
Condemnation poured in from across the world Tuesday after 10 journalists were among dozens killed in attacks in Afghanistan, in what the U.N. described as the “deliberate targeting” of the media.
A double suicide blast in Kabul left 25 people dead including AFP photographer Shah Marai and eight other journalists, while a BBC reporter was killed in a separate attack in eastern Khost province.
The second Kabul bomber disguised himself as a journalist and detonated himself among the crowd, police said, in what Reporters Without Borders said was the most lethal single attack on the media since the fall of the Taliban.
Journalists from Radio Free Europe and Afghan broadcasters Tolo News and 1TV were among the others killed.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “outraged” by the suicide blasts, which were claimed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and left another 49 people wounded.
In a third strike on a bloody day for Afghanistan, 11 children were killed and 16 people wounded, including Romanian and Afghan soldiers, when another suicide attacker exploded his car near a NATO convoy in southern Kandahar province.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the twin blasts.
“We learned with deep sorrow that many people were killed and wounded at a twin terrorist attack perpetrated today in Kabul,” the ministry said in a statement.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that the weakened militants were targeting journalists in Afghanistan in order to undermine the electoral process ahead of an expected vote in October.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also condemned the “senseless and barbaric attack.”
The BBC confirmed that its reporter, 29-year-old Ahmad Shah who had worked for the broadcaster for more than a year, was shot by unidentified armed men in Khost and that police were investigating the motive.
The attacks came days after the Taliban began a spring offensive, in an apparent rejection of a peace talks overture by the Afghan government.
AFP’s Marai joined the agency as a driver in 1996, the year the Taliban seized power. He soon began taking pictures on the side, covering stories including the U.S. invasion in 2001.
Marai, 41, left behind six children, including a newborn daughter.