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AFP Chief Photographer Killed in Kabul Suicide Blast Targeting Journalists


AFP Kabul Chief Photographer Shah Marai was killed today in a suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan. The blast was clearly targeting journalists — at least eight others were among the 25 people killed in the attack.

Marai and the other journalists had been rushing to the scene to cover an initial suicide bombing in the Afghan capital when the second suicide bomber struck 15 minutes after the first blast.

“The bomber disguised himself as a journalist and detonated himself among the crowd,” a local policeman stated, according to the AFP.

The Islamic State group (IS) has since claimed responsibility for the bombings.

The famed Afghan photographer originally joined AFP in 1996 as a fixer and driver before becoming a photographer in 1998. He eventually became chief photographer for the AFP Kabul Bureau and had over 18,000 of his photos distributed by the agency.

In 2016, Marai shared his fear of being killed by a suicide bomber in an article written for AFP, titled “When hope is gone“:

But there is no more hope. Life seems to be even more difficult than under the Taliban because of the insecurity. I don’t dare to take my children for a walk. I have five and they spend their time cooped up inside the house. Every morning as I go to the office and every evening when I return home, all I think of are cars that can be booby-trapped, or of suicide bombers coming out of a crowd. I can’t take the risk. So we don’t go out. I remember all too well my friend and colleague Sardar, who was killed with his wife, a daughter and a son while on an outing at a hotel, with only his small son somehow surviving the attack.

I have never felt life to have so little prospects and I don’t see a way out. It’s a time of anxiety.

Here’s a 1.5-minute video released by the AFP today with a selection of some of Marai’s photographs over the years:

“This tragedy reminds us of the danger that our teams continually face on the ground and the essential role journalists play for democracy,” says AFP Chairman Fabrice Fries. “Journalists were targeted by this attack. Our thoughts and our condolences go out to his family and the families of the other journalists killed.”

Social media is being flooded with tributes to Marai by other journalists in Afghanistan and around the world:

Marai leaves behind six children, including a baby daughter that was born just weeks ago.