Top photojournalist among dead as twin Kabul suicide blasts kill at least 25
July 24, 2020
Nine journalists were among 25 people killed when a coordinated double suicide bombing struck the Afghan capital in an Isil attack deliberately targeting the media on Monday.
A suicide bomber on a motorbike struck close to intelligence service offices in central Kabul and then a second attacker posing as a reporter later detonated among journalists gathering at the scene.
A statement on a website affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) said the extremists carried out the rush hour attack in the Shash Darak area of the city.
The blast was the latest in a relentless string of bloody, mass casualty bombings that have struck the country.
Last week, an Isil suicide bomber attacked a voter registration centre in Kabul, killing 60 people, while in March the extremists killed 31 at a Shiite shrine in the city.
The latest dead included Shah Marai, chief photographer in the country for the French news agency Agence France-Presse, as well as journalists from local broadcasters.
Najib Danish, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said the second bomber appeared to have posed as a journalist and blew himself up where reporters and rescue workers had gathered.
“He showed his press card and stood among journalists before blowing himself up," Danish told Reuters.
Elyas Mousavi, a journalist at the scene, told The Telegraph he had just arrived when he heard the second blast.
“After the second explosion no one remained at the site, because they were afraid of another explosion and then ambulances arrived. I saw also some security personal dead,” he said.
Follow-up bombings to maximise the carnage as crowds gather after an initial attack are a tactic used before by extremists in Iraq.
Qudrattulah Lashkari, another journalist, said he had escaped the blast by being late.
“So many of my journalist friends are among the dead and injured,” he said.
Elsewhere in the country a reporter for the BBC’s Afghan service was also killed on Monday. Ahmad Shah was shot dead by unidentified men in the eastern province of Khost.
The 29-year-old reporter had worked for the service, which broadcasts in Dari and Pashto, for more than a year.
Jamie Angus, BBC World Service Director, described him as “a highly capable journalist who was a respected and popular member of the team”.
The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters without Borders, says 36 media workers have been killed in Afghanistan in attacks by Isil or the Taliban since 2016.
Kabul double bomb attack
Afghan militants began swearing allegiance to Isil in 2015, sometimes after defecting from the Taliban, and have since carried out large numbers of attacks.
The Afghan government backed by Nato troops has failed to stop the violence or expand its writ in rural areas in the face of the long-running Taliban-led insurgency. Kabul’s overtures for peace talks “without preconditions” have not yet been answered.
There are fears this year’s parliamentary elections will become a target for more violence.
Meanwhile in a separate attack in the southern city of Kandahar, 11 children were killed and 16 wounded when a suicide bomber drove his explosive-laden van into a convoy of foreign forces.
Ashraf Ghani, the president, said attacks on innocent civilians, worshippers and reporters were all war crimes. The US Embassy also condemned the "savage bombings” and the killing of “a number of brave journalists”.