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Afghanistan: journalists targeted in deadly attacks across the country

Tuesday 1 May 2018 - 2:31pm

Kabul Suicide Bombings

London, 1 May 2018 - The murder of at least 10 journalists across Afghanistan on 30 April 2018 is a deplorable attack on freedom of expression in the country, said PEN International today as it urged the Afghan authorities to step up its efforts to protect its journalists.

Our hearts grieve over the tragic loss of lives in senseless violence in Afghanistan. The grief is compounded as among the fallen are witnesses to the carnage in Afghanistan - its writers and photographers, whose courageous journalism constantly reminded us of the horrors of daily life in the country. Its government must take immediate, effective steps to provide greater security to journalists in Afghanistan, as indeed, for all who live in the country," said Salil Tripathi, Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee.

According to media reports, at least nine journalists were killed in an apparent targeted attack while covering an earlier suicide bombing. The dead include employees of TOLO News, 1TV, Mashal TV, Azadi Radio, and AFP chief photographer Shah Marai, who in 2016 wrote of the perils of working as a journalist in Afghanistan.

Media reports suggest that a suicide bomber dressed as a cameraman detonated a second explosive device some 30 minutes after the first in the Shashdarak area of Kabul, where several government buildings, as well as NATO’s headquarters and the US Embassy, are located. The so-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for both attacks, according to media reports. In total, the bombings are reported to have claimed the lives of some 25 individuals and injured a further 45 people.

In a separate incident, a journalist for BBC’s Afghan service was reportedly shot dead while returning home in Khost province, eastern Afghanistan.

For further information please contact Emma Wadsworth-Jones at PEN International, Unit A, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, email: emma.wadsworth-jones@pen-international.org

“Every morning as I go to the office and every evening when I return home, all I think of are cars that can be booby-trapped, or of suicide bombers coming out of a crowd.” Excerpt from Shah Marai's 2016 article "When hope is gone"