Islamic State attack kills the most media workers ever in Afghanistan

KABUL (TCA) — The United States decried the killing of journalists in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan and accused the militants of trying to undermine the nation’s upcoming elections by attacking the “cornerstone of democracy,” RFE/RL reported.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Twitter called the twin suicide attacks which killed at least 25 people including nine journalists in Kabul on April 30 “senseless and barbaric.”

“Independent media is a cornerstone of democracy,” he said. “Despite today’s attack, the vibrant media landscape that has developed in Afghanistan will endure.”

The Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed the most media workers ever in a single attack in Afghanistan.

The twin blasts came little more than a week after an April 22 suicide blast claimed by IS that killed 60 people at a voter registration center in Kabul.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the attacks are aimed at undermining Afghanistan’s electoral process ahead of parliamentary elections in October.

“This is the normal stuff by people who cannot win at the ballot box, so they turn to bombs,” Mattis told reporters in Washington late on April 30.

The killings occurred when multiple journalists covering a suicide bombing in the Shash Darak area of Kabul were hit by a second blast set off by a suicide bomber carrying a press pass and pretending to be a reporter, officials said.

Among those killed were two RFE/RL journalists, a woman training to become an RFE/RL reporter, and AFP’s chief photographer in Kabul. The other journalists killed were working for Afghan media.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “outraged.”

“The deliberate targeting of journalists in the attack highlights once again the risks media professionals face in carrying out their essential work,” the UN chief said through a spokesman.

Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah also called it “an attack on democracy and an effort to silence the voice of the voiceless,” while President Ashraf Ghani called it an example of “war crimes.”

A BBC Afghan reporter was killed separately on April 30 in Khost province on the border with Pakistan.

Afghanistan was already considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, with at least 20 killed last year.

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Times of Central Asia