Shah Marai

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Shah Marai, the chief photographer for Agence France-Presse in Kabul, was killed in a double suicide bomb attack on April 30, 2018, in Afghanistan’s capital, that left over 25 dead, among them at least nine journalists including Marai, AFP reported.

“No worry man, I am here,” was one of the last messages Shah Marai sent from the scene of the first suicide blast, reassuring a colleague who was running late that he was shooting video as well as taking photos, according to AFP.  

Minutes later, Marai was killed in the second blast, in which the attacker disguised himself as a media worker and detonated his explosives in a scrum of reporters, according to media reports.

Kabul police said the bomber deliberately targeted the press.

The extremist group Islamic State issued an online statement the same day that claimed responsibility for the attacks, which also injured at least 45 people, according to The Associated Press.

Marai, 41, joined AFP’s Kabul bureau in 1996 as a driver and translator, according to AFP. He began taking photos on the side, discreetly wrapping a scarf around the camera in his hand because of Taliban restrictions, the journalist wrote in a 2016 blog post republished by AFP on April 30, 2018. In the beginning, Marai did not put his name on his photographs, simply signing them as “stringer,” so as to not draw unwanted attention, he wrote.

For some of 2000, Marai was AFP’s only person in Kabul and called in information via satellite phone to the Islamabad bureau, AFP reported.

In 2002, Marai became a full-time photo stringer before eventually becoming the agency’s chief photographer in Kabul.

In 2016, Marai wrote on his blog how, 15 years after American intervention and with a resurgence of Taliban influence, hope in Afghanistan had vanished and life seemed harder than before.

“Every morning as I go to the office and every evening when I return home, all I think of are cars that can be booby-trapped, or of suicide bombers coming out of a crowd. I can’t take the risk,” Marai wrote. “I have never felt life to have so little prospects and I don’t see a way out. It’s a time of anxiety.”