Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is horrified to learn that at least seven members of Tolo TV’s staff were killed in downtown Kabul late this afternoon when a minibus taking a group of the TV station’s employees to their homes was rammed by a suicide bomber in another vehicle carrying explosives.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack. The minibus was operated by the Kabura production company, which is owned by the Moby Group. “Journalists are targeted throughout the world but now entire news organizations are threatened by large-scale attacks,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Jihadists are among press freedom’s worst predators. As in Paris a year ago, killers decided to target a media outlet out of hatred for its editorial policies and hatred for free speech in general. We call on the Afghan authorities to assign all available resources to catching those responsible for this bombing as quickly as possible.” Tolo TV and 1TV – Afghanistan’s two leading privately-owned TV channels – were named as “military targets” in a Taliban communiqué on 12 October 2015. Signed by the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s Military Commission,” it said: “We henceforth regard Tolo TV and 1TV as military targets, not as news media (...) Nothing is safe from our attacks, neither personnel (presenter, reporters or crews) nor the building themselves.” RSF visited Afghanistan last November to organize a conference on security for journalists and to meet with senior officials – including Head of Government Abdullah Abdullah, information and culture minister AbdulBari Jahani and presidential spokesman Sayed Zafar Hashemi – to ask them to adopt concrete measures to protect the media. Journalists have paid a high price in Afghanistan since 2001. At least 34, including 15 foreign journalists, have been killed in connection with their work. Most of these murders are still unpunished. Afghanistan is ranked 122nd out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.