10 journalists among 25 dead in Kabul blasts
Kabul - Afghan spokesman confirms five journalists for local media killed along with AFP photographer in the attack.
Ten journalists including Agence France-Presse’s chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai, were among dozens killed in multiple attacks across Afghanistan on Monday, in the deadliest day for the country’s media since 2001.
Two suicide blasts in Kabul killed 25 people including Marai along with eight other journalists, in what Reporters Without Borders said was the most lethal single attack on the media since the fall of the Taleban. The attack, claimed by Daesh, was condemned internationally.
Later on Monday the BBC confirmed that one of its reporters, 29-year-old Ahmad Shah, was killed in a separate attack in eastern Khost province, near the border with Pakistan. The broadcaster did not immediately give further details.
Daesh claimed responsibility for the two blasts in the capital, which senior Kabul police official Hashmat Stanakzai said killed 25 people with 49 seriously wounded.
The attacks came a week after 60 people were killed as they waited at a voter registration centre in the west of Kabul, underlining insecurity in the capital despite repeated official pledges to tighten defences.
The journalists, including a female correspondent, all Afghan nationals, were killed in the second blast in Kabul as they waited by a security cordon, several hundred meters away from the site of the first one.
The second blast came about half an hour after the first.
Seven of the journalists were from Afghan outlets: two reporters from the Mashal TV, a cameraman and a reporter working for 1TV, two reporters from Radio Azadi and one from Tolo News, the AFJSC said.
The French news agency Agence France-Presse said its chief photographer in Afghanistan, Shah Marai, was killed.
At least five journalists were among the wounded. A Reuters photographer was slightly hurt by shrapnel.
In the southern city of Kandahar, where NATO-led forces operate out an big air base, 11 children were killed and 16 wounded when a suicide bomber drove his explosive-laden van into a foreign-force convoy, police said.
The 11 children who were killed were studying in a nearby madrassa, or religious school, said Matiullah Zhman, a spokesman for Kandahar police.
No militant group claimed responsibility for the Kandahar blast. A spokesman for Afghanistan's US-led NATO force said it was checking the report.
'Pretended to be a reporter'
In Kabul, Najib Danish, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said the suicide bomber who attacked journalists, appeared to have posed as a media worker and blew himself up where reporters and rescue workers had gathered.
"We know that a suicide bomber pretended to be a reporter. He showed his press card and stood among journalists before blowing himself up," Danish told Reuters.
Afghanistan was already considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, with at least 20 killed last year. Last week, unidentified gunmen shot a journalist in the southern city of Kandahar.
However, Monday's attack was the most serious one on the media since 2016, when seven workers for Tolo News were killed in an attack claimed by the Taleban.
The reporters had arrived to cover an initial blast in the Shashdarak area close to buildings of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) intelligence service.
They were waiting near the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, when the second explosion went off just as people were entering the government office.
Hundreds of people have been killed and wounded in a series of high-profile attacks in Kabul since the beginning of the year, despite President Ashraf Ghani's offer in February for peace talks "without preconditions".
Taleban militants, fighting to restore their version of strict law to Afghanistan, announced their usual spring offensive last week and there has been heavy fighting in several areas of the country since.
Daesh first appeared in Afghanistan three years ago. Its fighters have been active in the north of the country but their main stronghold is in an area of the eastern province of Nangarhar, on the border with Pakistan.