Tagged: Kabul

Slain Young Journalists Saw Their Work As A Way To Make Afghanistan A Better Place

(GANDHARA) — Radio Free Afghanistan journalist Abadullah Hananzai was furious on April 25 when he learned that a former colleague had been gunned down at a market in Kandahar in an apparent targeted killing.

“The murder of my former colleague at Kabul News, a great journalist named Abdul Manan Arghand, has greatly upset me,” Hananzai wrote in Pashto on his Facebook page. “Arghand is now a martyr for freedom of speech.”

It would be Hananzai’s last public Facebook post.

Hananzai and Radio Free Afghanistan video producer Sabawoon Kakar were among multiple journalists killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul on April 30. The journalists were covering an earlier suicide attack when a second bomber, disguised as a reporter, approached them and detonated his explosives.

Maharram Durrani, a 28-year-old university student who was training to become a journalist at the Kabul bureau of RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan, was also killed.

Claimed by Islamic State militants, the blasts killed at least 25 and injured 45. The Afghan Journalists Center said that, with nine reporters killed, it marked the deadliest attack against journalists in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.

Abadullah Hananzai

Hananzai was a video journalist who had been working since October 2016 on an antinarcotics project at RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan — a project called Caravan Of Poison.

A graduate of Kabul University, Hananzai was 26 years old and was preparing to celebrate his first wedding anniversary on May 8.

He previously had worked for Kabul News and for Zhwandoon TV, as well as for the Educational and Cultural Center for Afghan Women.

Hananzai’s recent reports for RFE/RL focused on the social and economic implications of drug addiction in Afghanistan, as well as efforts by the Interior Ministry to crack down on international narcotics trafficking out of Afghanistan.

One of Hananzai’s last Facebook posts was a message in English on April 19 and a photograph taken of himself in the compound of Radio Free Afghanistan’s Kabul bureau shortly after a rainstorm.

“Feeling fantastic. I find Peace in the Rain,” Hananzai said.

Sabawoon Kakar

Kakar was one of the first journalists to arrive at the scene of the first suicide bombing in Kabul on the morning of April 30.

He died from his injuries at a hospital in Kabul several hours after the second blast.

Kakar was a key member of Radio Free Afghanistan’s video team over the past five years.

His work included feature stories about social issues in Afghanistan — such as the status of women’s cricket in the country — as well as news about counterterrorism operations and security issues.

Kakar’s last video report was on April 29 — a package he produced with RFE/RL reporters in the northern Afghan province of Baghlan about a battle between Afghan security forces and Taliban militants.

“He was often covering the aftermath of suicide attacks and other dangerous spot news situations,” said Qadir Habib, a senior editor for Radio Free Afghanistan. “He was a brave man who was never afraid to cover dangerous stories.”

On his Facebook page, Kakar declared that despite bombing attacks against voter registration centers in Kabul, he had registered and planned to vote in Afghanistan’s October 20 parliamentary elections.

The 30-year-old Kakar, a native of Kabul, died one day before his fifth anniversary as an RFE/RL journalist. He is survived by his wife and a two-year-old son.

Maharram Durrani was a third-year student of Islamic law at Kabul University who was just starting her career as a journalist.

Durrani was being trained to take part in the weekly woman’s program RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan — a job she was due to start on May 15.

She previously worked for an Afghan online music channel called Radio Salam Watandar.

“When I began working in media, one of my first bosses asked me why I was studying Islamic law but working in media,” Durrani told RFE/RL during a February phone-in program.

“He said these are not related subjects. But I said, ‘No, that’s not true’,” Durrani explained. “It’s very much related because the media can provide information to all people.”

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9 journalists killed in Afghanistan: This is ‘a reminder of the extreme dangers to media workers’

(ABC NEWS) — Nine journalists were killed in dual blasts in Kabul, Afghanistan, this morning.
Interested in Afghanistan?

A Kabul police spokesman said the second suicide bomber was among the crowd of reporters who were rushing to the scene of the first blast when another device was detonated, according to The Associated Press.

Police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai said the second attacker was pretending to be a member of the media, the AP reported.

PHOTO: Security forces run from the site of a suicide attack after the second explosion in Kabul, April 30, 2018. A coordinated double suicide bombing hit central Kabul.Massoud Hossaini/AP Images
Security forces run from the site of a suicide attack after the second explosion in Kabul, April 30, 2018. A coordinated double suicide bombing hit central Kabul.
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The health ministry in Afghanistan released the names and affiliations of the nine journalists who were killed:

Shah Marai, a longtime photographer for Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Ebadullah Hananzai, from Radio Free Europe

Sabawoon Kakar, from Radio Free Europe

Yar Mohammad Tokhi, a Tolonews cameraman

Ghazi Rasooli, a 1TV reporter

Nowrooz Rajabj, a 1TV cameraman

Saleem Talash, a Mashal TV reporter

Mahram Durani, a journalist from Shamsad TV

Ali Salimi, a Mashal TV cameraman.

ISIS has since claimed responsibility for the Kabul attacks, which left at least 25 people dead and 45 others injured.

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Kabul Bombing Kills 57 in Line for Voter ID Cards

(VOA) — A suicide bomber struck a distribution center for Afghan voters’ identification cards Sunday morning in Kabul, killing at least 57 people and wounding more than 100 others.

Interior Ministry spokesman Najeeb Danish told VOA that people were waiting in line outside the center to get their Tazkira, or identification card, to be able to vote in the election when the bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body.

Hospital sources have described condition of a least ten wounded people as “highly critical”.

Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah has condemned the “terrorist” attack on the center set up in a Kabul school.

“I stand with those affected by this coward attack. Our resolve for fair and transparent election will continue and terrorists won’t win against the will of the Afghan people,” Abdullah wrote on his official Twitter account.

President Ashraf Ghani launched the voter registration process last week, allowing the Independent Election Commission to prepare voter lists for the October 20 parliamentary and district council elections. This will be the first time in Afghani history that elections will be held on the basis of formal voters lists.

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Kabul mourns 100 dead after ambulance bomb

(BBC) — More than 100 people are now believed to have been killed in a suicide bombing on Saturday in Kabul.

Attackers drove an ambulance past a police checkpoint to get to a crowded street in a district full of government buildings and embassies.

Afghanistan’s government has declared a day of mourning for Sunday, as funerals take place and relatives search hospitals for survivors.

The Taliban – a hardline Islamist group – said it was behind the attack.

It was the deadliest attack in Afghanistan for months and took place a week after an attack on a Kabul hotel in which 22 people were killed.

Health Minister Waheed Majroh said most of the 191 people injured were men.

AFP news agency reports that some foreign organisations are “reassessing their presence” in the country after the spate of attacks.

What happened in the latest attack?

Witnesses say the area – also home to offices of the European Union, a hospital and a shopping zone known as Chicken Street – was crowded with people when the bomb exploded on Saturday at about 12:15 local time (08:45 GMT).

Nasrat Rahimi, deputy spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, said the attacker got through a security checkpoint after telling police he was taking a patient to nearby Jamhuriat hospital.

He detonated the bomb at a second checkpoint, said Mr Rahimi.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said the use of an ambulance was “harrowing”.[READ MORE ]

Kabul hotel siege ends after 12 hours with 18 dead, Afghan officials say

(CNN) — Gunmen who raided the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul killed at least 18 people during a 12-hour standoff with security forces that ended Sunday, Afghan authorities said.

Of those killed, 14 were foreign nationals and four were Afghans, according to Najib Danish, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior. Four gunmen were also killed by Afghan security forces responding to the attack, he said.

Ukraine officials said the victims included Ukrainian nationals.

Nasrat Rahimi, a deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, had said earlier that foreigners were among the dead, but did not provide details on the nationalities of the victims. Seven Afghans were wounded, he said.

Afghan security forces went on every floor of the six-story hotel in a clearing operation, said Danish. He said four attackers were involved, but the Taliban released a statement claiming responsibility and saying it was carried out by five assailants.

The attackers were affiliated with the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, according to the Interior Ministry.

The ministry said that 153 people — including 41 foreigners — were rescued from the hotel. After the Interior Ministry declared the siege over, TOLO news channel reported that two attackers were still inside the hotel and gunshots were still being heard.

Gunmen attacked the hotel about 9 p.m. Saturday (11:30 a.m. ET) and were still trading fire with Afghan special forces Sunday morning local time, the station reported. Ambulances raced to the scene during a lull in the shooting, a witness who lives near the hotel told CNN.

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Gunmen launch siege at Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul

(CNN) — Afghan special forces traded fire Sunday morning with the remaining gunmen who attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul hours earlier, Afghanistan’s TOLO news channel reported.

The gunfire intensified about 4 a.m. Sunday (6:30 p.m. Saturday ET), TOLO said. Ambulances came to the scene during a lull in the shooting, a witness who lives near the hotel told CNN.

Nasrat Rahimi, a deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Interior Affairs, earlier told CNN that Afghan special forces were trying to engage the attackers.

Two of four attackers in the hotel have been killed, Rahimi said. He said the hotel’s third floor, where the kitchen is located, had caught fire.

TOLO reported that foreign troops were also at the hotel. Lotfullah Najafizada, the head of the broadcaster said on Twitter that the last attacker was on the hotel’s top floor.
TOLO showed images of people apparently hanging off balconies, saying they were “desperate guests and staff trying to escape” from the burning hotel.

TOLO and Afghan station 1TV News later quoted an interior ministry spokesperson as saying five civilians had been killed and six injured in the attack. One hundred people had been rescued from the hotel, 16 of them foreigners, both broadcasters said on Twitter citing the ministry. They said the operation to clear the hotel was ongoing.

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Death toll from Kabul mosque attacks rises to 89

(RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY) — Afghan officials say suicide bombers have killed at least 89 people in two attacks on mosques in Afghanistan, as sectarian and terror-related violence continues to surge in the war-torn country.

The October 20 attacks targeted a Shi’ite mosque in the capital, Kabul, and a Sunni mosque in the central Afghan province of Ghor.

An Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman said that the death toll in the Kabul attack had risen to at least 56 people.

At least 55 people were also injured after a suicide bomber blew himself up as worshippers were gathering for prayers at the Imam Zaman mosque in the western Dasht-e-Barchi section of the capital.

The extremist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in Kabul.

The attacks come one day after 43 soldiers were killed and nine wounded in a Taliban attack on an army camp in the southern province of Kandahar.

In the second attack, officials said at least 33 people were killed and 10 injured when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive in Khewiagan, a Sunni mosque in the district of Dulaina in central Ghor Province.

A local official said an anti-Taliban commander inside the mosque at the time may have been the target of the attack. No claim of responsibility has been made for the attack.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the attacks show that “the terrorists have once again staged bloody attacks, but they will not achieve their evil purposes and sow discord among the Afghans.”

The United States strongly condemned the October 20 attacks and previous attacks in Afghanistan during a week in which U.S. drones strikes were reported to have killed more than 30 militants in the region.

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Massive Kabul truck bomb kills 80, wounds hundreds

(AFT) — At least 80 people were killed and hundreds wounded Wednesday when a massive truck bomb ripped through Kabul’s diplomatic quarter, bringing carnage to the streets of the Afghan capital and blowing out windows several miles away.

Bodies littered the scene and a huge cloud of smoke rose from the highly-fortified area which houses foreign embassies, after the rush-hour attack tore a massive crater in the ground just days into the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

No group has so far claimed the powerful blast, which a Western diplomatic source said was caused by 1,500 kilograms of explosives packed inside a water tanker.

Rescue workers were digging bodies from the rubble hours after the explosion as anguished residents struggled to get through security cordons to search for missing relatives. Dozens of damaged cars choked the roads as wounded survivors and panicked schoolgirls sought safety.

It was not immediately clear what the target was. But the attack suggests a major security failure and underscores spiraling insecurity in Afghanistan, where the NATO-backed military, beset by soaring casualties and desertions, is struggling to beat back insurgents.

Over a third of the country is outside government control.

“Unfortunately the toll has reached 80 martyred (killed) and over 300 wounded, including many women and children,” said health ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh, adding the figures would continue to climb as more bodies are pulled from the debris.

President Ashraf Ghani slammed the attack as a “war crime”.

The Taliban — currently in the midst of their annual “spring offensive” — tweeted that they were not involved and “strongly condemn” the blast. The insurgent group rarely claims responsibility for attacks that kill large numbers of civilians.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for several recent bombings in the Afghan capital, including a powerful blast targeting a NATO convoy that killed eight people earlier this month.

The sound of the bomb, which went off near Kabul’s busy Zanbaq Square, reverberated across the Afghan capital, with residents comparing it to an earthquake. Most victims appear to be civilians.

“The vigilance and courage of Afghan security forces prevented the VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) from gaining entry to the Green Zone, but the explosion caused civilian casualties,” NATO said in a statement.

– Embassies damaged –

The BBC said its Afghan driver Mohammed Nazir was killed and four of their journalists wounded. Local TV channel Tolo TV also tweeted that a staff member Aziz Navin was killed.

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