A bomb exploded during a press award ceremony for journalists in Afghanistan's Mazar-e- Sharif city on Saturday. The blast killed at least one person and wounded eight, including children, officials said.
The blast took place at the Tabian Farhang center in Mazar-e Sharif, capital of Balkh province, as journalists gathered for the award event at 11 am, said Mohammad Asif Waziri, the local police spokesman. Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor confirmed later that five journalists and three children were wounded, and one security guard was killed.
The unfortunate bomb blast happened two days after a bomb in Mazar-e-Sharif killed the provincial governor, Daud Muzmal, and two others. Four were left injured.
Among the wounded journalists was Najeeb Faryad, a reporter for Ariana News television station, who said he felt like something hit him in the back, followed by a deafening sound before he fell to the ground. Hujatullah Mujadidi, head of the Association of Free Journalists of Afghanistan, said the cultural center in Balkh held the event to honor media personnel from the north of the country. He said 14 journalists were wounded.
The association called on authorities to pay serious attention to the security and safety of journalists in the capital and provinces, said Mujadidi. “Journalists are the real voice of Afghan people, an attack on the lives of journalists is an attack on freedom of speech and Afghan people,” he said.
The UN mission in Afghanistan condemned the “despicable” attack, saying it was the latest unacceptable incident in the city. It expressed condolences for the victims and a speedy recovery for the injured. “Violence must stop. Afghan reporters show immense courage & must be protected,” the UN mission said on Twitter.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the regional affiliate of the Islamic State group — known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province — is a key rival of the ruling Taliban. The militant group has increased its attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover of the country in August 2021. Targets have included Taliban patrols and members of Afghanistan's Shiite minority.
(With PTI inputs)