On Saturday, a bomb blast occurred in Mazar-i-Sharif, a northern Afghan city, killing a security guard and injuring journalists, children, and police officers, according to a witness and police reports.
The incident took place two days after the Taliban governor of northern Balkh province was killed by a suicide bomber, an attack that the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for. The killing of Mohammad Muzammil, who was attacked in the provincial capital of Balkh, marked the highest-ranking official’s death since the Taliban regained power in 2021.
The explosion on Saturday occurred at a cultural center in Mazar-i-Sharif, where an event honoring Afghanistan’s media was taking place. Five journalists were among the wounded, and a security guard was killed, according to the police. Afghan journalist Atif Arian, who was wounded in the attack, stated that there was chaos as everyone was trying to find a way to escape.
Three children were also injured in the blast, according to Balkh police spokesman Mohammad Asif Waziri. The explosion took place while a group of children was singing an anthem, moments after a Taliban official delivered a speech.
Before the Taliban regained power, Afghan journalists were frequently targeted, with several attacks claimed by the Islamic State. According to Beh Lih Yi, Asia program director at the Committee to Protect Journalists, targeting journalists during an event honoring reporters is a despicable and cowardly act.
The Taliban must conduct a quick investigation, bring the culprits to justice, and put an end to impunity for those who target journalists.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. Violence across Afghanistan has decreased since the Taliban took control, but security has once again deteriorated, with the Islamic State claiming responsibility for numerous fatal attacks.
The Taliban and the Islamic State share a strict Sunni Islamist ideology, but the latter is working to establish a global “caliphate,” whereas the Taliban’s goal is to govern an autonomous Afghanistan.