Media workers amongst casualties in Kabul explosion 31 May

A devastating bomb in Kabul on 31 May has left scores dead, including media workers. Ilias Alami from the Afghan Journalist Safety Committee (AJSC) condemned the attack as an affront to humanity and civilians

“We are taking care of the injured media workers and support the families, who lost their breadwinners. Journalism is not a crime and we stand together for the future of Afghanistan,” he said in an emotional statement released Wednesday. The AJSC, has with the support of IMS set up one of the world’s few countrywide safety mechanisms for journalists working to protect and assist journalists and their families in situations such as this.

According to a release from Afghan TV1, the station’s journalists and other media outlets continued their work after the fatal attack which destroyed part of their office and neighbouring buildings. The bomb exploded near Zanbaq Square close to shops, government offices and foreign embassies. More than 80 lives ended, hundreds of people were wounded. This was the latest in a series of extremist incidents carried out by the Taliban and Isis across Afghanistan, the deadliest strike and a reminder of how Kabul has become a battlefield. According to news reports by BBC and others, most of the victims were civilians on their way to work in the morning rush hour. Among those killed was a BBC driver, Mohammed Nazir, and an IT engineer for the Afghan television channel ToloNews, Aziz Navin.

In the press release by Afghan TV1, Lotfullah Najafizada, the director of ToloNews, described to the Afghan media how he and his co-workers examined seven mostly unrecognisable bodies at the military hospital before heading over to the civilian side, where the 44th body had just arrived. Tolo TV itself experienced a traumatising loss of seven staff members following an attack on a van carrying Tolo Tv staff in January 2016. This and other attacks that have followed since have weakened an otherwise vibrant industry, creating fear and selfcensorship in their wake.

The attack has left citizens angry and wondering how such a devastating attack was possible in the city’s centre. On 2 June, Tolo TV reported that Afghan security forces were using tear gas and water cannons to disperse angry protesters in Kabul demanding the resignation of President Ashraf Ghani’s government for its failure to protect the capital.