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Reuters/Mohammad Ismail
LINE OF DUTY

A bomber posing as a cameraman killed nine journalists in Kabul as they reported on a terror attack

By Josh Horwitz

It’s been a grim day for media in Afghanistan and the journalism community at large.

CNN reports that at 8am local time, a blast took place in a part of capital city Kabul that houses the US embassy and other government facilities. When journalists rushed to the scene, they were joined by a bomber disguised as a TV cameraman, who detonated himself among the crowd roughly half an hour later.

The coordinated blasts, claimed by Middle East-based terror group ISIL, killed a total of 29 people, including nine journalists, according to the Afghan Journalist Safety Committee. Separately, in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, a terror attack aimed at a NATO convoy killed 11 children at a religious school.

The journalists killed on Monday included staff of French wire service Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Tolo News, a channel run by the liberal media company Moby Group. Their names:

  • Shah Marai, chief photographer at AFP’s Kabul bureau
  • Maharam Durrani from domestic radio broadcaster Salam Watandar
  • Yol Mohammed Tokhi, cameraman for Tolo News, part of Moby Group
  • Salim Talash and Ali Salimi of Mashal TV, a domestic broadcaster
  • Ghazi Rasouli and Nowruz Ali of domestic broadcaster 1TV
  • Abadullah Hananzai of Radio Free Europe
  • Sabawoon Kakar of Azadi Radio

Afghanistan president Mohammad Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the attack, saying in a statement, “Freedom of expression is one of the important achievements of the people and the state, and this achievement and value will be protected and protected with full power.”

AFP issued a statement honoring Marai:

A January report from the Afghan Journalist Safety Committee called 2017 “the bloodiest year for journalists and media workers in Afghanistan’s history,” with a 67% annual increase in the number of violent incidents against people in the industry.

The country has become a more dangerous place for journalists after the drawdown of foreign troops in 2014. In 2016, two NPR journalists were killed in Afghanistan while on a reporting assignment with the Afghan National Army.