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Afghanistan: journalists among 25 dead in Kabul rush hour blasts

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Afghanistan: journalists among 25 dead in Kabul rush hour blasts

Afghanistan: journalists among 25 dead in Kabul rush hour blasts
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As many as eight journalists and four policemen are said to be among more than two dozen people killed as two explosions rocked the Afghan capital Kabul during the morning rush hour on Monday.

The number of confirmed casualties has risen quickly. A police spokesman has said at least 25 people died and another 45 were wounded.

The journalists were struck by the second blast, which happened after they had rushed to the scene to cover the first explosion.

Among the dead was the chief photographer for the AFP news agency, which has named him as Shah Marai. The others were cameramen and reporters working for Afghan media.

The explosions are said to have occurred close to government buildings: the NDS intelligence service, and the headquarters of the ministry of urban development and housing.

Police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai said the first suicide bomber was on a motorbike while the second pretended to be among the media rushing to the scene, before detonating his explosives.

AFP's Global News Director Michele Leridon described Marai's death as a "devastating blow" for the agency and its staff. "Shah Marai was a treasured colleague who spent more than 15 years documenting the tragic conflict in Afghanistan for AFP," she said in the agency's account of the blasts. She went on to praise "the extraordinary strength, courage and generosity of a photographer who covered oten traumatic, horrific events with sensitivity and consummate professionalism".

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has strongly condemned the attacks. A statement described as “war crimes” attacks targeting civilians, worshippers, democratic processes, reporters and freedom of speech.

REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
Afghan security forces near the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan April 30, 2018REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Both the Taliban and self-proclaimed Islamic State group have repeatedly claimed attacks in Kabul.

In a separate attack in Khost province, BBC Afghan journalist Ahmad Shah, 29, was shot dead.

"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,” said the BBC.

There has been heavy fighting in several areas of the country since the Taliban announced its usual spring offensive last week.

The blasts come a week after an attack at a voter registration centre killed 60 people. Security officials have warned of an increasing risk of attacks ahead of parliamentary elections planned for October.