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Kabul bombings: Photographer Shah Marai among 25 dead

Kathmandu

At least 25 people have been killed in two bombings in the Afghan capital Kabul, including several journalists documenting the scene.

AFP chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai, is among the victims.

The first explosion was carried out by an attacker on a motorbike. A second followed about 15 minutes later after a crowd, including several reporters, had gathered at the scene.

The Islamic State group (IS) said it had carried out the attack.

In a tweet, the AFP news agency said the second blast had deliberately targeted the group of journalists.

"The bomber disguised himself as a journalist and detonated himself among the crowd," AFP quoted a police spokesman as saying.

At least eight journalists and four police officers were among the dead, interior minister spokesperson Najib Danish told the BBC. So far, 45 people have been reported injured.

The intelligence services headquarters had been the target, IS said in a statement released through its self-styled news outlet Amaq.

The Shashdarak district also houses the defence ministry and a Nato compound.

AFP paid tribute to Shah Marai, who it said had six children, including one newborn.

"This is a devastating blow," global news director Michele Leridon said.

"We can only honour the extraordinary strength, courage and generosity of a photographer who covered often traumatic, horrific events with sensitivity and consummate professionalism."

Bombings in the Afghan capital are not uncommon.

Earlier in April, a suicide bomb at a voter registration killed almost 60 people and injured 119, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

The Taliban also remain active in the country, only 30% of which is under full government control, according to BBC research published earlier this year.

Separately on Monday, a suicide bomb attack in the Kandahar region killed 11 schoolchildren and injured many more. Nato forces operate from a base in the area, and Tolo News reported that the bomb was detonated near a convoy of Romanian soldiers.

No group has yet said it carried out the Kandahar attack.

Remembering Shah Marai
By Mahfouz Zubaide, BBC News

Shah Marai started work as a driver with AFP in the 1990s, during the era of the Taliban.

His interest in the world, his curiosity and love for photography resulted in AFP sending him to France for training.

When he came back, he turned his wonderful eye to capturing moments of humanity during the most shocking ordeals of his city, Kabul.

One of his most iconic photographs was from an attack on a Shia mosque last year: a picture of a child just standing stunned with police pointing at him to leave the mosque because the attacker was still inside. But the child was looking for his father.

Throughout it all Shah Marai was calm, smiling and positive. He was never scared of danger.

But he was deeply affected when his good friend and fellow journalist Sardar Ahmad was murdered a few years ago in another Kabul attack at the Serena hotel.

I have known Shah Marai since I was a child and we found ourselves both working for the media here in Kabul, always meeting at the sites of tragedy.

He was also a friend to many others in Kabul's journalistic community and we are all mourning him now.
..........................................................................................................................................

Afghan capital hit by morning rush hour blasts, 21 killed

Two blasts hit the Afghan capital Kabul on Monday, killing at least 21 people, including a photographer for French news agency AFP, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility, officials said, Reuters reported.

The photographer, Shah Marai, was among a group of journalists caught in the second explosion as they were reporting on the initial blast.

The attacks came just a week after a blast at a voter registration centre killed 60 people, in the wake of warnings by security officials against the risk of increasing attacks ahead of parliamentary elections planned in October.

Monday’s first explosion in the Shashdarak area close to buildings of the NDS intelligence service was followed by one outside the ministry of urban development and housing, just as people were entering the government office.

Four people were killed and five injured in the first explosion, said Najib Danish, a spokesman for the interior ministry, adding that authorities had despatched ambulances to the incident sites.

Soon after, a second explosion took place beside journalists who had gathered to cover the first blast, killing or wounding a number of photographers and cameraman, Reuters witnesses said.

Agence France-Presse’s chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai, was killed in the blast, the agency confirmed in a Twitter message.

A Reuters photographer was slightly hurt by flying shrapnel.

A spokesman for the ministry of public health put the total toll at 21 dead and 27 injured.

Taliban militants, fighting to restore their version of strict Islamic law to Afghanistan, announced their usual spring offensive last week and there has been heavy fighting in several areas of the country since.

Hundreds of people have been killed and wounded in a series of high-profile attacks in Kabul since the beginning of the year, despite President Ashraf Ghani’s offer in February for peace talks “without preconditions”.

Published: 2018-04-30 13:09:05