Taliban kills seven media workers in brutal Kabul suicide attack21 Jan, 2016
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) and the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) in condemning the suicide bomb attack on a civilian bus carrying at least 30 media staff of the for TOLO TV-owned Kaboora Production.
Seven media workers were killed in the blast on Wednesday, January 20. The IFJ and AIJA demand immediate action by the Afghan government on a direct attack on TOLO TV by the Taliban, and follows a series of threats issued in late 2015.
According to reports, seven members of the Kaboora Production, which produces content for TOLO TV, Lemar TV, Arman FM, Arakozia FM and TOLONews of the MOBY Media Group, were killed when the bus was targeted in the bomb attack at 5pm at Darul Aman Road in south western Kabul. According to reports, a suicide bomber rammed a motorcycle into the bus before detonating a bomb. More than two dozen others, including women and children, were injured in the attack.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. It has previously threatened TOLO TV in October 2015 saying they no longer considered TOLO TV as a media outlet but military targets. “No employee, anchor, office, news team and reporter of these TV channels holds any immunity,” the group said.
The AIJA said: “We condemn this attack with strong words and pass condolence to the media group and the families. The journalist community is shocked by the news.”
The Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) said: “It’s a dark day for the Afghan media and we are deeply shocked and saddened by this barbaric attack. We call on government to seek out and prosecute the perpetrators of this crime as quickly as possible.”
The Afghan government’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, issued condemnation on the Taliban action, saying: “An attack on media workers who work with dedication and neutrality under difficult circumstances reveals the true face of the Taliban and terrorists who don’t believe in any religious or civil values.”
TOLO TV, which is owned by MOBY Media Group, Afghanistan’s first and biggest commercial media group, was launched in 2004 and is currently Afghanistan’s most popular television channel. The company also established Afghanistan’s first independent radio station, Arman FM in 2003. TOLO TV remains the country’s leading 24/7 news network.
Following the threats against TOLO TV in October, 2015, MOBY Media Group chairman and chief executive, Saad Mohseni said: “It’s serious, but we are also very serious in the way we cover things, and it wasn’t going to stop us from doing our jobs.”
As the attack was reported live on TOLO TV, the news anchor said: “We salute you on your martyrdom, our colleagues. They martyred you to silence our voice, but they will never achieve their evil goals.”
The IFJ said the barbaric attack served to highlight the vulnerabilities and pressure of media workers endeavouring to report in Afghanistan’s fledgling democracy and the ongoing attempts by groups like the Taliban to silence critical reporting through threat, intimidation and violence. It also highlights the ongoing precarious security situation in the country as international support withdraws.
“The IFJ expresses its sincere condolences to the families of our colleagues savagely assassinated this evening in Kabul,” said Anthony Bellanger, IFJ General Secretary. “Once more journalists and media workers are paying the highest price simply for fulfilling their mission to inform.
The South Asia Media in Solidarity Network (SAMSN), an alliance of journalists unions and press freedom organisations in South Asia, said: “The SAMSN strongly condemns the cowardly attack and killing of the media staff of TOLO TV’s production unit in Afghanistan. We urge the government of Afghanistan to ensure justice to the killed media staff and ensure safety to the journalists, who are performing their duties, despite threats and risks of life.”
The IFJ sent a message to Afghanistan’s journalists that they have the support of the global media community and it must remain strong and united against attacks to send a message that murder cannot silence the media under any circumstances.
“Today, all the world’s journalists are in shock. The IFJ demands that everything possible be done to shine light on this atrocity and that the Afghan government conducts a thorough investigation to identify those responsible for this ‘massacre of Kabul’.”