Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

Curated knowledge, trenchant insights & witty bon mots

Horrific day for journalists in Afghanistan

Nine journalists killed in a suicide bombing. Another shot to death in Khost province. April 30, 2018 will go down as one of the most deadly days for journalists in Afghanistan’s troubled history.

From the Associated Press via Globe and Mail (“Nine journalists among 25 killed in Kabul suicide bombings“):

Two Islamic State suicide bombers struck in Afghanistan’s capital on Monday, killing 25 people, including nine journalists who had rushed to the scene of the first attack, in the deadliest assault on reporters since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

An Agence France-Presse photographer and a cameraman for the local Tolo TV station were among the fatalities, police said. Two reporters for the Afghan branch of Radio Free Europe and a third who was to begin working there soon also were killed, Radio Free Europe said. At least 45 people were wounded in the attacks, according to Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai, who said four police were among those killed.

The attack was the latest in a relentless string of large-scale bombings and assaults in the capital and elsewhere in Afghanistan this year. …

The Islamic State group claimed the Kabul bombings in a statement posted online, saying it targeted the Afghan intelligence headquarters. The statement did not say anything about specifically targeting journalists. The blasts took place in the central Shash Darak area, home to NATO headquarters and a number of embassies and foreign offices – as well as the Afghan intelligence service.

Stanekzai said the first suicide bomber was on a motorbike, while the second targeted those scrambling to the scene to aid victims. He said the second attacker was on foot in a crowd of reporters, pretending to be a member of the press, when he set off his payload. …

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said it was the deadliest attack targeting reporters since the U.S.-led invasion that overthrew the Taliban in 2001.

The Paris-based group named the nine journalists killed, who worked for media organizations from multiple countries, and said another six reporters were wounded. The group, also known by its French acronym RSF, said 36 media workers have been killed in Afghanistan in attacks by IS or the Taliban since 2016.

In a separate attack in the eastern Khost province, a 29-year-old reporter for the BBC’s Afghan service was shot dead by unknown gunmen. The BBC confirmed the death of Ahmad Shah, saying he had worked for its Afghan service for more than a year. BBC World Service Director Jamie Angus called it a “devastating loss.”

Reporters without Borders named the dead at the bombing scene:

The second blast killed ToloNews cameraman Yar Mohammad Tokhi, three Radio Azadai (Radio Free Europe) journalists (Ebadollah Hananzi, Sabvon Kakeker and Maharam Darani), two TV1 cameramen (Ghazi Rasoli and Norozali Rajabi, aka Khamoush), AFP photographer Shah Marai Fezi, Mashal TV reporter Salim Talash and Mashal TV cameraman Ali Salimi.

The journalists who were badly injured included Naser Hashemi of Al Jazeera, Omar Soltani of Reuters, Ahmadshah Azimi of Nedai Aghah, Ayar Amar of the weekly Vahdat Mili and Davod Ghisanai of the privately-owned TV channel Mivand.

Joel Simon, executive director of Committee to Protect Journalists, told CJR this:

“These are all Afghan reporters that have been killed, but at least five are working directly for the international media,” the Committee to Protect Journalists Executive Director Joel Simon tells CJR. “So theses are the reporters who keep the world informed. This is not a local story; it’s not just about local news coverage in Afghanistan. This is a threat not just to the Afghan media, this is a threat to global media.”

The NYT profiled one of those killed — Shah Marai, chief photographer in Kabul for Agence France-Presse. This anecdote struck me:

“There is no more hope,” he wrote in 2016 on his blog for Agence France-Presse. “Life seems to be even more difficult than under the Taliban because of the insecurity.”

Mr. Marai’s eldest son, who is blind, said he had asked his father many times to also leave for Europe. His mother had asked him to leave his risky job and become a shopkeeper instead.

Mr. Marai had just laughed.

Mon, April 30 2018 » Main Page, Media