Kabul attack is attack on global media: Afghan envoy

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New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) Afghan Ambassador to India Shaida Abdali on Friday said that the April 30 suicide attack in his country’s capital Kabul that claimed the lives of nine journalists is an attack not only on the Afghan media, but the global media as a whole.

Two other journalists were also killed in separate attacks in Khost and Kandahar in the war-ravaged country the same day, making it the bloodiest day for the Afghan media in 2018.

Speaking at a condolence meeting at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club here, Abdali, while expressing his condolences to the media family, said: “This was an attack on not only the Afghan media, but on the global media. It was an attack on Afghan youth.”

Nine journalists were killed in a coordinated double suicide bombing in Kabul on April 30.

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A militant on a motorbike carried out the first explosion prompting journalists to rush to the scene.

A second explosion took place about 20 minutes later as a second attacker, disguised as a cameraman, detonated explosives at the site of the initial blast, targeting journalists and rescue workers at the scene.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Abdali said that the attack was a setback to the freedom of media and freedom of expressed his country has attained over the last 16 years.

He said that while in 2001 there was only one radio station in Afghanistan airing religious sermons, today there are over 100 television channels, 300 FM radio channels and around 1,000 print media publications.

He said that 20 million people in his country now have access to mobile phones and internet.

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“We know how much responsibility there is on the fourth pillar of democracy in Afghanistan,” the Ambassador stated.

Stating that Afghan youth come to India for training in journalism, he said that his government is giving particular attention to protection of journalists.

“We hope we will be able to provide an environment for journalists to move around freely,” Abdali said. “The attack shows the common threat to all of us.”

At the same time, the Ambassador said that though Afghanistan is faced with a security challenge, it is still not the most dangerous place for journalists in the world.

With the IS and the Taliban vying for power in Afghanistan, Abdali said that the two groups come from the same sources.

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“I hope our neighbouring countries will not divide the two and will stand united in the fight against terrorism,” he said.

Appreciating New Delhi’s role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, the Ambassador welcomed the decision by India and China to start a joint project in his country taken during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s informal summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in China last month.

He also expressed gratitude to India and Iran for developing the Chabahar port in Iran that has opened connectivity to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.

Stating that his country did not want to depend on one country for trade, Abdali said that while Afghanistan’s trade with Pakistan has fallen from $2 billion to $500 million, trade with India has grown to $1 billion.

–IANS

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