Eight journalists were among 29 people killed in a suicide attack in Kabul Monday, including a famed photographer who had written of the dangers of reporting in the Afghan capital.
The journalists died when a bomber disguised as a TV cameraman detonated a second bomb at the site of an earlier explosion.
The first blast happened at around at 8 a.m. local time in the Shashdarak area of the city, where the US embassy and Afghan government buildings are located, prompting journalists to rush to the scene.
The second explosion came as the attacker, posing as a cameraman, detonated explosives as journalists huddled around the scene,
Eight journalists, including at least one woman, died in the attack, according to Najib Sharifi, director of the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee.
In a tweet Monday, the Global News Director, Michele Leridon, honored Marai for his “extraordinary strength, courage and generosity” and praised his “consummate professionalism” and “sensitivity” during his 15 years covering the Afghan conflict for AFP.
AFP said the death of its “treasured colleague” Shah Marai in Monday’s twin blast in Kabul was “a devastating blow”.
The tweet ended with Leridon sending “condolences to the families of other journalists killed in this terrible attack”.
A further 45 people were injured in the two incidents, and have been taken to city hospitals, according to Ministry of Public Health spokesman Wahid Majroh.
The agency said Marai joined AFP as a driver in 1996, the year the Taliban seized power, and in 2002 he became a full-time photo stringer, rising through the ranks to become chief photographer in the bureau.
AFP Global News Director Michele Leridon released a statement on the death of the long-serving photographer.
“This is a devastating blow, for the brave staff of our close-knit Kabul bureau and the entire agency. Shah Marai was a treasured colleague who spent more than 15 years documenting the tragic conflict in Afghanistan for AFP.”
Afghanistan has seen a spate of attacks in recent weeks. Just days ago at least six people were killed, including two Afghan soldiers, when a car bomb exploded in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province.
On April 22, a suicide blast killed 57 people — including at least five children — and wounded over 100 more at a voter registration center. That attack was preceded by a car bombing in southern Afghanistan in which at least 13 people were killed and 35 others injured.
The incident took place outside a sports stadium in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province. A wrestling match was taking place inside the stadium at the time of the attack.
The uptick in violence comes despite reports around six weeks ago that suggested some factions of the Taliban had expressed interested in pursuing peace talks with the Afghan government.
Those reports came on the heels of an Afghan government announcement in February that it would be willing to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political party as part of a potential ceasefire agreement with the Islamist militant group.