Two Islamic State suicide bombers have struck in Kabul, killing 25 people, including nine journalists who had rushed to the scene of the first attack, in the deadliest assault on reporters since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
An Agence France-Presse photographer, a cameraman for the local Tolo TV station and several reporters for the Afghan branch of Radio Free Europe were among the fatalities in the Afghan capital, police said.
At least 45 people were wounded in the attacks, according to Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai, who said four officers were among those killed.
The attack was the latest in a relentless string of large-scale bombings and assaults in the capital and elsewhere in Afghanistan this year.
#UPDATE Agence France-Presse's chief photographer in Kabul, @shahmarai, and five other journalists were among more than two dozen people killed in twin suicide blasts in the Afghan capital - read an essay from 2016 that he wrote for @AFPblogs https://t.co/UxVEDtuedy pic.twitter.com/AyBx5kP1cO— AFP News Agency (@AFP) April 30, 2018
A few hours later, in southern Kandahar province, a suicide car bomb targeting a Nato convoy killed 11 children from a nearby religious school, police said.
The children had gathered around the Nato convoy for fun when the bomber struck, said Abdul Rahim Ayubi, a legislator from Kandahar. Eight Romanian Nato soldiers were wounded.
IS claimed the Kabul bombings in a statement posted online, saying it targeted the Afghan intelligence headquarters. The statement did not say anything about specifically targeting journalists.
Mr Stanekzai said the first suicide bomber was on a motorbike, while the second targeted those scrambling to the scene to aid victims.
He said the second attacker was on foot in a crowd of reporters, pretending to be a member of the press, when he set off his bomb.
AFP said the news agency’s chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai, was among those killed. Hundreds of people attended his funeral later on Monday.
The Paris-based group named the nine journalists killed, who worked for media organisations from multiple countries, and said another six reporters were wounded.
The group, also known by its French acronym RSF, said 36 media workers have been killed in Afghanistan in attacks by IS or the Taliban since 2016.
In a separate attack in eastern Khost province, a 29-year-old reporter for the BBC’s Afghan service was shot dead by unknown gunmen.
The BBC confirmed the death of Ahmad Shah, saying he had worked for its Afghan service for more than a year. BBC World Service director Jamie Angus called it a “devastating loss”.
"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.” (3/3)— BBC News Press Team (@BBCNewsPR) April 30, 2018
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attacks, as did the US Embassy in Kabul.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the families, friends, and colleagues of all the victims, including a number of brave journalists among the dead and injured,” the embassy said.
“Where media are in danger, all other human rights are under greater threat.”
In other violence, insurgents killed at least four Afghan policemen in an ambush in northern Balkh province, said Sher Mohammad Abu-Tariq, the district chief in Nahri Shahi.
In eastern Nangarhar province, an explosion killed an Afghan police officer and wounded four other people, said Attuhullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor.