Afghanistan has suffered its deadliest day for the country's media since the US-led defeat of the Taliban in 2001.

By Joe McDonough


Posted on May 1, 2018

Nine journalists have died after a suicide bomber appeared to target first responders that had converged on a Kabul site where another Islamic State terrorist had earlier set off another bomb killing innocent civilians.

In total 26 people — including four police officers — died in the two explosions, and it follows an IS attack in the capital just a week ago that killed 57, mostly women and children.

According to interior ministry spokesman Najib Danesh, the second bomber presented a press card to police before joining a large group of photographers, cameramen and reporters covering the first blast, and detonated, killing seven journalists instantly before two others were unable to be saved after sustaining horrific injuries.

Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) said eight of the journalists were from local agencies. Two reporters were working for Mashal TV, a cameraman and a reporter were there for 1TV, there were three reporters from Radio Azadi, and one journalist from Tolo News.

In a separate attack, also on Monday, BBC reporter Ahmad Shah, 29, was shot dead in an attack in the eastern Afghan province of Khost.

Also in Kandahar, where NATO-led forces operate a major air base, 11 children were killed and 16 wounded when a suicide bomber drove his explosive-laden van into a foreign-force convoy, police also said.

Afghanistan, unsurprisingly, is one of the most dangerous countries on earth for journalists. Last year, 20 media professionals lost their lives, and just last week an unidentified gunman shot a reporter in Kandahar.

The AJSC puts the total count at 80 since 2001.

The Taliban, in particular, has made no secret of the fact it sees the media as an enemy.

What witnesses saw during the explosions

Witnesses of Monday’s twin bombings described bodies and body parts being “thrown about on the street and the pavement”.

Taxi driver Jawed Ghulam Sakhi (28), said, “When the explosion happened, everywhere was covered with dust and fire, it was such a horrific scene.”

“I saw journalists covered with blood, this time they targeted the media.”

Masouda, a young woman whose husband was wounded in the attack, pleaded with the government to do more.

“I don’t know who is responsible for all these attacks, every day we lose our loved ones and no one in this government is taking responsibility for the killing of these innocent people,” she said.

Defiant journalists continued reporting in the midst of the tragedy.

The New York Times shone a light on one “shaken television reporter” who stood in front of the camera of another colleague to continue with live updates after his own cameraman Shah Marai had been blown up next to him.

The photographers that survived lowered their cameras to shovel dirt on the father of six’s grave.

The 10 journalists killed on Monday

  • Shah Marai — Agence France-Press.
  • Yar Mohammad Tokhi — Tolo News.
  • Ahmad Shah, BBC Afghan service.
  • Maharram Durrani — RFE/RL.
  • Abadullah Hananzai — RFE/RL.
  • Sabawoon Kakar — RFE/RL.
  • Ghazi Rasuli — 1TV.
  • Nawruz Ali Rajabi — 1TV.
  • Salim Talash — Mashal TV.
  • Ali Salimi — Mashal TV.