KABUL/ISLAMABAD: Ten journalists, including Agence France-Presse’s chief photographer in Kabul Shah Marai, and children were among dozens killed in multiple attacks across Afghanistan Monday, in the deadliest day for the country’s media since 2001. Two suicide blasts in Kabul killed 25 people including Marai along with at least eight other journalists, in what Reporters Without Borders said was the most lethal single attack on the media since the fall of the Taliban. The attack, claimed by the Islamic State group, also known by its Arabic acronym Da’ish, was condemned internationally by groups including the United Nations and the European Union, and spurred an outpouring of grief among Afghan journalists, many of whom took to Twitter to post tributes to colleagues and friends. Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai said the second explosion came minutes after the first and targeted reporters at the scene.”The bomber disguised himself as a journalist and detonated himself among the crowd,” he said. The interior ministry confirmed the number of deaths and said 49 people had been wounded amid fears the toll could rise. Later Monday, the BBC confirmed that one of its reporters, 29-year-old Ahmad Shah, was killed in a separate attack in eastern Khost province, near the border with Pakistan. The broadcaster did not immediately give further details. In a third attack, 11 children were killed and 16 people wounded, including foreign and Afghan security force members, when a suicide attacker exploded his bomb-laden car near a convoy in the southern province of Kandahar, officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for that attack, which brought the total number of people killed across the country to 37. Journalists from Radio Free Europe and Afghan broadcasters Tolo News and 1TV, as well as others, were among those killed in Kabul, Reporters Without Borders said.”This tragedy reminds us of the danger that our teams continually face on the ground and the essential role journalists play for democracy,” said Fabrice Fries, CEO of AFP. Marai – who was buried later Monday – joined AFP as a driver in 1996, the year the Taliban seized power, and began taking pictures on the side, covering stories including the US invasion in 2001. In 2002, he became a full-time photo stringer, rising through the ranks to become chief photographer in the bureau. His versatility and easy camaraderie was demonstrated in a message moments before the second attack, in which he reassured an AFP video to a colleague who was stuck in traffic and could not reach the scene.”No worry man, I am here,” he said by WhatsApp, adding that he was shooting video in addition to taking photos. He leaves behind six children, including a newborn daughter. Those killed in the Kabul bombings include Mahram Durani (Radio Azadi), Ebadullah Hananzai (Radio Azadi), Yar Mohd Tokhi (TOLO News), Ghazi Rasooli (1TV), Nowroz Ali Rajabi (1TV), Shah Marai (AFP), Saleem Talash (Mashal TV), Ali Saleemi (Mashal TV) and Sabawoon Kakar (Radio Azadi). Afghan Ambassador in Islamabad Dr Omar Zakhilwal was also critical at the security agencies failure following the blasts near the National Directorate of Security (NDS) office in the high-security area.”Today’s horrific double suicide terrorist attacks in which so many young talented journalists as well as ordinary civilians killed is highly condemnable. Our hearts & prayers are with victims & their bereaved families. These also portray serious security & intelligence lapses again,” Zakhilwal wrote on Twitter. President Ashraf Ghani also condemned the attacks on civilians and journalists as war crime and said the government will not allow anyone to harm freedom of the press. Published in Daily Times, May 1st 2018.