Wounded journalists are shifted on a vehicle to a hospital, in Mazar-e-Sharif on March 11, 2023, after a bomb blast at an event commemorating the media. (AFP/Atif Aryan)

Afghan journalists injured in explosion at press award event

New York, March 11, 2022 – In response to news reports that a number of journalists were wounded in a bomb attack on a press award event in northern Afghanistan on Saturday, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement calling for a swift investigation:

“Targeting journalists during an event to honor reporters is a despicable and cowardly act,” said Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Brave Afghan journalists are already reporting in extremely challenging circumstances. The Taliban must investigate quickly, bring the perpetrators to justice, and end impunity for those who target journalists.”

The explosion took place at a cultural center in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, on Saturday as journalists gathered for an event marking the National Journalists Day, according to those reports. A security guard was killed and several journalists were injured.

Police put the number of journalists injured at five, while the Afghanistan Journalists Center, a local media group, said at least 16 were wounded. CPJ could not immediately independently verify the number of casualties.

No one has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack so far. The incident came two days after a suicide bombing in Mazar-e-Sharif killed the provincial governor and two other people at his office in an attack claimed by the militant group Islamic State.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent via messaging app.

Afghanistan was ranked fourth on CPJ’s 2022 Global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries with the worst records for prosecuting murderers of journalists.