At least 25 people were killed when two suicide blasts ripped through central Kabul early on Monday, April 30, Afghanistan’s health ministry has confirmed.
At least 45 people were wounded and rushed to hospital, where some are in critical condition, ministry spokesperson Wahid Majroh told Tolo news, warning the toll could rise.
The first bomb was detonated before 8 a.m. by an assailant on a motorcycle near the headquarters of the Afghan intelligence service in the Shashdarakarea of the city, AFP reported. A second explosion minutes later killed a number of journalists who had rushed to cover the scene, including AFP’s chief photographer in Afghanistan, Shah Marai, and TOLOnews cameraman Yar Mohammad Tokhi.
The second bomber was disguised as a journalist, police spokesperson Hashmat Stanikzai said.
At least five other reporters from RFE, 1TV, Tolo and other news outlets were reported dead, but their names have not been confirmed. The Afghan Journalists Safety Committee said at least seven were killed.
The other reporters were identified as Mahram Durani, Abdadullah Hananzai and Sabawun Kakar from RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi; 1TV reporters Nawruz Ali Khamoosh and Ghazi Rasuli; and Ali Salimi and Salim Talash from Mashal TV.
Police officers were also killed in the second blast, Ministry of Interior spokesperson Najib Danish said.
“The second suicide bomber detonated his explosives among the journalists and policemen who were covering the area,” Danish said.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack via its Amaq news agency. In a statement the group said it targeted the headquarters of the Afghan intelligence services.
Islamic State – Khorasan Province (known as ISKP, IS-K and ISIS-K) first emerged in Afghanistan in 2014 as NATO combat troops withdrew from the country and handed over responsibility to Afghan security forces. After a series of deadly attacks last year, the group had been relatively quiet over the last month before setting its sights on election centers as Afghanistan prepares to vote this summer.
Last week a suicide bomber killed 57 people at a Kabul voter registration center, an attack ISIS said targeted Afghanistan’s Shia community. The group claimed a bombing at an election center in Jalalabad on Sunday.
“ISKP in 2017 changed its modus operandi from targeting Hazaras exclusively to combined Hazara, electoral centers + miltiary sites attack. Here they are claiming responsibility for attack against the Afghan intelligance compounds,” Paweł Wójcik, an analyst who tracks al-Qaeda and Islamic State militancy in central and southeast Asia, told The Defense Post.
U.S. and Afghan forces have ramped up airstrikes and ground offensives against ISKP in Jowzjan province in recent months as the group seeks to expand its foothold in the country.
Afghanistan is also bracing for “fighting season” after the Taliban announced the start of their yearly spring offensive. The group has denied involvement in Monday’s attacks.
” I don’t think it got anything to do with the Taliban spring offensive, rather a constant reminder that they are able to hit the Afghan capital routinely. Recently, they had problems because of massive anti-terror purges in a lot of Kabul areas that led to arrests of a few IS cells, what might have caused a break in their terror strikes. But here they are again,” Wójcik said.
This story was updated on April 30 to add the names of journalists killed in the attack and analyst comments.