Afghanistan: 1 killed, 8 mostly journalists injured in bomb blast in Mazar-e-Sharif

By Islamuddin Sajid

ISLAMABAD (AA):  At least one person was killed and eight others, including journalists, were injured in a bomb blast on Saturday in a city in northern Afghanistan that has been the target of a suicide bombing and multiple killings in recent days.

According to local media, the explosion took place in the morning at an event in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, where journalists were to be honored.

“So far, one person has been killed and eight others, including five journalists, have been injured,” state-run Bakhtar News Agency reported, citing Abdul Nafay Takor, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

He added that the bomb was apparently planted ahead of the event at Tabyan Cultural Center.

Five journalists and three children were among the wounded, according to Afghanistan’s TOLO News.

A TOLO news reporter in Mazar-e-Sharif said that a number of reporters, religious clerics, and local officials participated in the conference.

“This morning, around 11:00am in PD 2 of Mazar-e-Sharif at the Tabyan Cultural Center, which belongs to Shia brothers, a blast happened. Unfortunately, five journalists and three children were wounded. The condition of the wounded is satisfactory,” said Mohammad Asif Waziri, a spokesman for the Balkh security department.

Media-supporting organizations and journalists condemned the attack and called for the protection of journalists.

“Today’s blast in Balkh that also caused injuries to a number of journalists and media employees, is really concerning. It had a negative impact on the morale of the media community,” said Masror Lutfi, a member of Afghanistan’s Journalists Union.

“We are very disheartened by today’s blast. Some of our beloved friends suffered heavy injuries,” said Nabi Sabor, a journalist.

“I saw the journalists who were on the bed and were wounded. But it is good news that there is no one killed among the journalists,” said Hayatullah Ishaqzai, journalist.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast.

In another bomb blast, a woman was killed and five others were wounded in an IED blast in Mazar-e-Sharif city, the center of Balkh province on Saturday evening, health officials confirmed.

Balkh police spokesman Adil Shah Adil confirmed the explosion and said it happened near Sina Stadium in Mazar-e-Sharif city when a convoy of Afghan security forces was passing through the area.

“Three of the wounded are in critical condition,” said Ghausuddin Anwari, the head of Abu Ali Sina Balkhi hospital in Balkh.

This comes hours after at least two security force members were killed in separate blasts in the northern province of Balkh and the eastern province of Paktika on Saturday, local officials said.

Paktika police spokesman Adil Shah Adil said that one security force member was killed and eight others were wounded in a suicide bombing in Dedadi district of the northern province of Balkh on Saturday morning.

It was the second explosion in three days after a suicide attack in Mazar-e-Sharif on Thursday that left three people dead, including a prominent Taliban figure and Balkh Governor Mullah Muhammad Dawood Muzammil.

In the same city earlier on Wednesday, Taliban forces carried out an operation against people they claimed were involved in kidnappings, which resulted in at least eight fatalities.

“Our security forces conducted an operation in Mazar-e-Sharif and eliminated eight kidnappers. The kidnappers were eliminated after they showed armed resistance,” Takor was quoted by Tolo News as saying.

However, relatives of the deceased protested outside the UNAMA office on Saturday, charging the Taliban with murdering innocent people.

The protesters claimed that their relatives worked in the private sector and were unrelated to any kidnapping incidents.

“I want justice. Whoever gave false information should be questioned about why they did so,” Samandar, a family member of the victims, told the broadcaster.

“They are responsible for their own answers. How come they fired at them? Why were these young people martyred when they had done nothing wrong? according to Abdul Baqi, the victim’s other relative.

Additional report from TOLO News

[Map of Afghanistan from CIA Factbook/Public Domain/AA]

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