Monday 30 April has been one of the deadliest days for journalists working in Afghanistan. Ten journalists were among dozens killed in multiple attacks across the country. News Agency AFP says that it is the worst days for the country’s media since 2001.
AFP reported that two suicide blasts in Kabul killed 25 people including Shah Marai, the agency’s chief photographer in Kabul, along with at least eight other journalists. Reporters Without Borders said this was the most lethal single attack on the media since the fall of the Taliban.
The attack, claimed by the Islamic State group, was condemned internationally by groups including the United Nations and the European Union, and spurred an outpouring of grief among Afghan journalists, many of whom took to Twitter to post tributes to colleagues and friends.
Journalists from Radio Free Europe and Afghan broadcasters Tolo News and 1TV were among those killed in Kabul.
AFP’s Marai – who was buried later Monday – joined the international news agency as a driver in 1996, the year the Taliban seized power, and began taking pictures on the side, covering stories including the US invasion in 2001.
In 2002 he became a full-time photo stringer, rising through the ranks to become chief photographer in the bureau. He leaves behind six children, including a newborn daughter.
“This is a devastating blow for the brave staff of our close-knit Kabul bureau and the entire agency,” said AFP Global News Director Michele Leridon, describing him as a “treasured colleague”.
“We can only honour the extraordinary strength, courage, and generosity of a photographer who covered often traumatic, horrific events with sensitivity and consummate professionalism,” Leridon said.
“We also send our condolences to the families of other journalists killed in this terrible attack.”
Jamie Angus, Director of BBC World Service, announced: “It is with great sadness that the BBC can confirm the death of BBC Afghan reporter Ahmad Shah following an attack earlier today. The attack took place in Khost province.
“Ahmad Shah was 29. He had worked for the BBC Afghan service for more than a year and had already established himself as a highly capable journalist who was a respected and popular member of the team.
“This is a devastating loss and I send my sincere condolences to Ahmad Shah’s friends and family and the whole BBC Afghan team. We are doing all we can to support his family at this very difficult time.”
Photo credits: AFP/BBC