The Afghan journalists rushing to the site of an explosion this past week in Kabul were trying to cover the news. They didn’t realise it was a setup. In the aftermath of the attack, a suicide bomber disguised as a news cameraman detonated his device.
The attacks, claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS), left 29 people dead, including 10 journalists. They were a brutal reminder of the perils of being in the news business in Afghanistan.
“It was one of the deadliest incidents for Afghanistan media and Afghanistan journalists because this one was directly targeting reporters,” says Parwiz Kawa, editor of Hasht-e-Subh Daily newspaper.
Although responsibility for the twin explosions was claimed by the Islamic State, the Taliban represent a much wider threat to Afghan journalists.
“Militant groups don’t want their atrocities to be covered and reported, and it’s basically the media who highlights, who reveals atrocities that they commit,” explains Najib Shafiri, director of Afghan Journalists Safety Committee.
While attacking journalists isn’t new, the Taliban are also targeting “the telecommunication towers and other structures that are related to media and communication,” points out Radio Azadi’s Malali Bashir. “They are trying to destroy the very fabric of the media and communication as so people don’t have first-hand and correct information.”
While the Taliban choose their targets carefully, the Islamic State targets everyone. Like one of Tolo News’ cameramen, Yar Mohammad Tokhi, who perished in the second explosion, having been lured there by the first. His equipment bears the stains and his colleagues bear the scars of the mother of all attacks against journalism in Afghanistan.
Najib Shafiri, director, Afghan Journalists Safety Committee
Parwiz Shamal, head of news, ‘Tolo News’
Parwiz Kawa, editor-in-chief, ‘Hasht-e-Subh’ Daily newspaper
Malali Bashir, journalist, ‘Radio Azadi’
Source: Al Jazeera News