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Twin blasts kill 29, including 10 journalists in Kabul

Attack takes place in Afghan capital's green zone during morning rush hour; Daesh claims responsibility

Twin blasts kill 29, including 10 journalists in Kabul Ambulances arrive at the scene after twin explosions targeted central Kabul, Afghanistan on April, 30, 2018. At least 22 people were reported dead and 39 injured. ( Haroon Sabawoon - Anadolu Agency )

By Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL, Afghanistan

At least 29 people, including 10 journalists and cameramen, were killed and 39 others injured in two suspected suicide blasts during the morning rush hour in the capital Kabul Monday, according to police and health officials.

Police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai told Anadolu Agency the first blast was carried out by a suspected suicide bomber riding a motorcycle who targeted government employees in the Shash Darak area inside the supposedly highly secure green zone of the city at around 8 a.m. (0330 GMT).

 “The second attack was carried out by a suicide bomber among journalists and security forces who had gathered near the site of the first blast,” Stanikzai said.

The blast site is just a few minutes’ drive from the office of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) -- the Afghan intelligence agency -- and several other government offices and embassies.

Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack.

In an online post on its Amaq propaganda site, the terror group claimed it had killed over 50 intelligence officials.

Local Azadi Radio said one of its reporters -- Abdullah Hananzay -- was killed in the attack. French wire service AFP also confirmed the killing of Shah Marai, its chief cameraman in Kabul. Other media victims include Mahram Durrani from Salam Watandar, Tolo News cameraman Yar Mohammad Tokhi, Mashal TV reporter Salim Talash, Mashal TV cameraman Ali Salimi, 1TV reporter Ghazi Rasouli, and 1TV cameraman Nowruz Ali. Radio Free Europe journalist Sabawoon Kakar later also succumbed to his wounds.

This is the single bloodiest attack on Afghan journalists after a Taliban-claimed suicide attack on a bus carrying Tolo News employees in January 2016 killed six journalists and staff members.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) strongly condemned today’s attacks. “I am furthermore outraged by the attack which appears to have deliberately targeted journalists; this attack, coming just ahead of World Press Freedom Day, is a direct assault on freedom of expression,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan and head of the UNAMA. He added the people who organized and enabled these attacks must be brought to justice.

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani also denounced the deadly attack.

“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,” Ghani said in a statement, calling the attack an “unforgivable crime”.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry also strongly condemned the "heinous terrorist attacks" and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded and conveyed its condolences to the relatives of the deceased.

Separately, a BBC Pashto Service journalist, Ahmad Shah, was shot dead by unknown gunmen in Khost, some 229 kilometers (142 miles) southeast of Kabul

The killing of Shah is the second targeted killing of journalists in Afghanistan in as many weeks. Last Wednesday, Abdul Hanan Arghand, a Kandahar-based journalist, was shot dead by unknown motorcycle riders in Kandahar.

Kandahar bombing

Separately, a suspected suicide car bombing in the southern Kandahar province on Monday killed 11 students of a religious seminary and injured five Romanian soldiers.

Police spokesman Mati Ullah said the suspected bomber targeted a convoy of Romanian soldiers in the Damaan district.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Kandahar attack.

This attack came after the Taliban on Wednesday launched their annual spring offensives.

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