Bomb at Afghan news agency injures four

Bomb explodes outside independent Afghan news agency Pajhwok, injuring four and destroying office equipment

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

A bomb exploded at the Pajhwok Afghan News bureau entrance on Wednesday, reportedly injuring four people and destroying office equipment in Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province.

Around 8pm local time (15:30 GMT) a magnetic bomb attached to the front gate of Afghanistan’s largest independent news agency went off.

Zeerak Fahim, a Pajhwok correspondent, said two people, guests at the Voice of America radio station located next to the Pajhwok bureau, were wounded in the blast.

Fahim said two more people, owners of a garment shop in the same plaza as the news agency, were also wounded.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Pajhwok’s editor-in-chief Danish Karokhel said the agency had received threats from militants in the past.

“We have received threats and letters from insurgents from time to time when they were not happy about our stories and coverage of incidents,” he told the press.

Karokhel said the news agency strove for objective coverage and was unaffiliated with any of the warring parties, Pajhwok News Agency reported. “I urge the government to do more to protect journalists and call on all parties in the conflict not to create hurdles,” he added.

“We are committed to serving the masses and such threats would not deter our resolve,” he said.

A spokesman for the province’s governor, Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, said police were investigating and the reasons for the attack were unclear.

Afghanistan’s media enjoyed an increased freedom when the Taliban were deposed in 2001. Pajhwok Afghan News was launched in 2004, before the first presidential election in Afghanistan.

Danish and a group of Afghan print and radio journalists applied to the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for funding, and for the first two years of its existence, Pajhwok was entirely funded by the USAID.

Speaking to Vanessa M Gezari from the Pulitzer Center in 2010, Danish said “That money is for the freedom of speech,” and told Gezari that the USAID had never tried to influence Pajhwok’s content.

In October 2010, Pajhwok’s core USAID funding stream ended but the news agency continues to receive funding from the Open Society Institute and the US embassy to supplement ad sales and subscriptions which account for 60 percent of its budget, Gezari reported.

The agency is headquartered in Kabul and has eight regional bureaus. In autumn 2010, it had about a dozen reporters in Kabul and 35 in the provinces, in addition to five video journalists, five photojournalists, editors and support staff as reported by the Pulitzer Center.

On the same day as the explosion, slain Pajhwok reporter Abdul Samad Rohani was commemorated in southern Helmand province. He was abducted on June 7, 2008 and was found murdered the next day.

Rohani is not the only casualty to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan; Pajhwok has lost two other reporters since its inception.


TRTWorld and agencies