Kabul hit by twin suicide blasts, several deaths reported | News | DW | 30.04.2018

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Kabul hit by twin suicide blasts, several deaths reported

Two explosions in Afghanistan's capital have killed more than 20 people, officials say. The "Islamic State" has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which also targeted journalists.

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At least 25 people were killed and dozens injured in two suicide bombings in central Kabul on Monday morning, Afghan police said.

The blasts struck close to one another during rush hour in Shash Darak, an area that hosts a number of foreign embassies, as well as NATO's headquarters and buildings belonging to the Afghan NDS intelligence agency. 

Read moreKabul residents in shock after wave of violence

Targeting rush hour

  • Police said an attacker on a motorcycle detonated the first bomb just before 8 a.m. local time (0400 UTC), killing at least four people.
  • The second blast followed moments later, and was reportedly set off by an assailant disguised as a journalist among the crowd gathering to report on the initial blast.
  • A security source said both were suicide blasts.
  • Agence France Presse (AFP) chief photographer Shah Marai, two journalists from 1TV, one from Tolo TV and several reporters from Radio Free Europe were among the dead.
  • Militant group "Islamic State" (IS) claimed responsibility for the bombings in a statement issued via its Amaq news agency.

Read moreAfghanistan and the West 'share a common threat'

'Devastating blow'

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attacks. A statement from the presidential palace said attacks targeting innocent civilians, worshipers, national and democratic processes, reporters and freedom of speech all are war crimes.

The US Embassy also condemned the "savage bombings" in Kabul and reiterated its support "for the Afghan people and Ghani's government in their fight against terrorism."

Najib Sharifi, the head of the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee, said the incident "makes it clear that Afghanistan, where violence and killing of reporters is frequent, is the most dangerous country for journalists." 

AFP Global News Director Michele Leridon paid tribute to photographer Shah Marai, calling his death "a devastating blow for the brave staff of our close-knit Kabul bureau and the entire agency."

"Marai was a treasured colleague who spent more than 15 years documenting the tragic conflict in Afghanistan for AFP… We also send our condolences to the families of other journalists killed in this terrible attack."

Read more:   Why is 'Islamic State' targeting Shiites in Afghanistan?

Upcoming elections: President Ghani is under pressure to restore security ahead of parliamentary elections planned for October. Government forces are struggling to take back territory from a number of groups, including the Taliban and IS, which frequently stage attacks as part of their campaign to establish strict Islamic rule in Afghanistan.  

Spring offensive: The Taliban has warned that it will not allow the elections to go ahead, and security officials have raised concerns about an increase in attacks in the lead-up to the vote. Last week the group announced the start of its spring offensive, leading to heavy fighting in several parts of the country. 

Spate of attacks: Hundreds of people have been killed and wounded in a series of blasts in Kabul since the start of the year. Last week, an IS suicide bomber killed 60 people and wounded 130 others at a voter registration center in the capital. In March, another IS attacker targeted a Shiite shrine in Kabul, killing 31 people.

nm/msh (Reuters, AP, dpa)

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