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RFE/RL Journalists Among 25 Killed In Twin Bombings In Kabul

The scene in Kabul after a second bomb detonated killing several journalists.

A pair of coordinated suicide bombings that the Islamic State (IS) militant group have claimed responsibility for have rocked central Kabul near the country’s intelligence agency, killing at least 25 people, including three RFE/RL journalists and at least five other media members.

Police said 45 wounded have also been taken to local hospitals in the April 30 attack, though they fear the number of casualties from the twin attacks may still rise.

Health Ministry officials said a suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up in the Shash Darak area near buildings of the NDS intelligence service.

A second blast followed about 20 minutes later when a suicide bomber pretending to be a reporter blew himself up outside the headquarters of the Urban Development and Housing Ministry among the journalists covering the first explosion.

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RFE/RL's Radio Azadi journalists Abadullah Hananzai and Maharram Durrani were two of the seven media members killed in the second attack. Sabawoon Kakar, an RFE/RL photo journalist and cameraman, who was wounded at the scene died later in the hospital.

AFP has identified Shah Marai, the chief photographer for the agency in Kabul, as another journalist killed in the blast.

RFE/RL journalist Sabwoon Kakar was among those injured.

AP quoted Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai as saying that four police officers were killed in the explosions.

In a statement issued via its Amaq news agency, IS claimed responsibility for the blasts, which come days after the Taliban kicked off an offensive in an apparent rejection of calls for the militants to accept an offer by the Afghan government to hold peace talks.

“We condemn in the strongest terms possible the cowardly attacks in Kabul today by two suicide bombers that killed and injured Afghan forces and innocent Afghan citizens, including Afghan journalists,” General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement.

“Make no mistake, the enemies of Afghanistan cannot win. Actions like this one only strengthen our steadfast commitment to the people of Afghanistan,” he added.

Kabul police chief Dawood Amin said the area near the attacks, which includes many foreign offices, has been sealed off and an investigation was under way.

Abadullah Hananzai, one of the RFE/RL journalists killed in the Kabul attack.
Abadullah Hananzai, one of the RFE/RL journalists killed in the Kabul attack.

Hananzai was a journalist and video cameraman who had been working on an antinarcotics project for RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan called “Caravan of Poison.”

Durrani worked on the weekly women’s program for RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan.

The incident also comes about one week after a suicide blast killed 60 people and wounded at least 120 outside a voter-registration center in the capital.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the April 22 attack in Dashte Barchi, a heavily Shi'ite-populated area in western Kabul, also through Amaq.

The Sunni group has frequently targeted Afghanistan’s Shi'ite minority, which they view as “apostates.”

The government in Kabul is also battling Taliban militants, who were driven from power by the U.S.-led invasion 17 years ago.

Hundreds of people have died in several attacks in Kabul since the beginning of the year, despite the offer to the Taliban of peace talks "without preconditions" by President Ashraf Ghani.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, RFE/Rl Radio Azadi, Tolo News, dpa, and AP