New York, July 23, 2018–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns yesterday’s suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, in which at least one media worker was killed.
Mohammad Akhtar, a 31-year-old Agence France-Presse driver, was among at least 23 people killed in the attack, the news organization reported. Akhtar was on his way to the AFP bureau to work the night shift and was changing public transportation near the airport when the attack occurred, AFP reported. He had worked at AFP for 11 years, the news agency said.
“Mohammad Akhtar’s death shows the terrible dangers that those who work for the media in Afghanistan face at all times,” said Robert Mahoney, CPJ’s deputy executive director. “Media support workers such as drivers are vital to newsgathering and Akhtar’s loss is a blow to the media community.”
The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, which targeted Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum at the international airport as he returned from exile, according to news reports. Dostum was not hurt, according to the reports.
According to the AFP report, Akhtar was related to Shah Marai, the agency’s chief photographer who was killed in a deadly attack that targeted journalists in late April. AFP did not specify their exact relation. Afghanistan is the deadliest country for journalists this year, with at least 10 journalists killed for their work and one additional case in which CPJ is still investigating the motive.