At least eight journalists died in a bomb blast in Kabul on Monday as they were covering an earlier explosion on the same day. The two blasts claimed at least 25 lives and injured 49, Agence France Presse reported.
Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the twin suicide bombings, according to media reports. The death toll could rise, the government fears.
AFP’s chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai, was among the journalists who lost their lives in the second blast, the news agency confirmed in a tweet.
“This is a devastating blow, for the brave staff of our close-knit Kabul bureau and the entire agency. Shah Marai was a treasured colleague who spent more than 15 years documenting the tragic conflict in Afghanistan for AFP,” Michele Leridon, AFP Global News Director, said in a statement.
The other journalists who died were 1TV reporter Ghazi Rasouli and cameraman Nowruz Ali, Tolonews cameraman Yar Mohammad Tokhi, Mashal TV reporter Salim Talash and cameraman Ali Salimi, reporter Ebadullah Hananzai of Radio Free Europe and Salam Watandar Radio’s anchor Mahram Durrani, declared Najib Sharifi, director for the Afghanistan Journalists Safety Committee.
The suicide bomber masqueraded as a journalist and detonated explosives near the group of journalists and rescue personnel who were gathered near the first blast in the Shashdarak area, which is in the proximity of the NDS intelligence service buildings. The second blast took place minutes after the first one, Kabul police told AFP.
The Afghan Journalist Safety Committee, a watchdog organization, said in a statement: “Attack against journalists is war crimes. AJSC strongly condemns today’s attack against journalists which resulted in the killing of 8 journalists.”
Monday’s blasts were the latest in a series of attacks since the beginning of this year. A week ago, Asia Times reported that a suicide bombing, allegedly by IS at Kabul’s Dasht-e-Barchi area, killed 63 people and injured 120.
Afghan security officials have warned that there may be increasing attacks ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled in October. Kabul’s vulnerability is also high because the Taliban, Afghanistan’s biggest insurgent group, has rejected President Ashraf Ghani’s call for voter registration ahead of polls; they want to restore a stricter Islamic law in the country.