‘A dark day’: Tributes for journalists killed in Kabul

At least nine journalists killed in Afghan capital blast while arriving at scene to cover aftermath of earlier bombing.

Kabul explosion
Among those killed was the bureau chief of AFP and two journalists working for Radio Free Europe [Massoud Hossaini/The Associated Press]

Tributes are pouring in for at least nine Afghan reporters killed in an explosion while covering an earlier suicide bombing in Kabul.

The first blast was caused on Monday morning by a motorcycle-riding attacker who detonated explosives during rush hour in the Shash Darak area of the Afghan capital.

About half an hour later, as journalists waited by a security cordon several hundred metres away from where the first explosion had occurred, a second suicide bomber apparently posing as a reporter blew himself up among them.

The explosion caused “the deadliest day in Afghan media history”, a joint statement by The Afghanistan Federation of Journalists (AFJ) and the country’s news organisation said. 

Several other journalists were wounded in the blast, including Al Jazeera photographer, Seyyed Nasser Hashemi.

Overall, at least 29 people were killed and 49 wounded in the twin attacks, which were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

Afghan TV network TOLOnews identified the journalists killed in the explosion as: Maharram Durrani (Azadi Radio), Ebadullah Hananzai (Azadi Radio), Yar Mohammad Tokhi (TOLOnews cameraman), (Ghazi Rasooli (1TV Journalist), (Nowroz Ali Rajabi (1TV cameraman), Shah Marai (AFP photographer), Saleem Talash (Mashal TV), Ali Saleemi (Mashal TV) and Sabawoon Kakar (Azadi Radio).

“This terrorist attack is a war crime and an organised attack on the Afghan media,” the statement by the AFJ and the country’s media read, calling for the government to support the families of the victims and the International Court of Justice and the UN Security Council to investigate the incident.

It also said that the industry will mark the day in future in honour of its fallen colleagues.

On social media, many journalists, news organisations and press freedom groups condemned the attack targeting both media and first responders.

The Afghan Journalist Safety Committee described the attack a “crime against humanity” and called for an international investigation into Monday’s attacks.

Al Jazeera journalist Jennifer Glasse, based in Kabul, called Monday’s events “a day of sadness”.

Photojournalist Massoud Hossaini, who was present at the moment of the second blast, said Monday was a “dark” day for journalists in Afghanistan.

Michele Leridon, global news director for AFP news agency, called Marai’s death “a devastating blow”.

Kawoon Khamoosh, a BCC journalist, praised the work of Marai, calling him “a very brave photographer who captured every single side of life in Afghanistan”.

Christophe Deloire, head of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an organisation aimed at progressing the freedom and safety of journalists, urged the United Nations to appoint a special representative for the safety of journalists.

Many others on Twitter expressed their shock and devastation at reports of their colleagues being targeted in the attacks.

Afghanistan has been a dangerous place for journalists for many years. Last week, a reporter was killed in Kandahar province.

The country ranked 118th out of 179 in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom index. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 35 journalists have been killed in the country between 1992 and 2017.

Source: Al Jazeera