Middle East

Islamic State claims attack on TV station in Afghan capital

Militant group Islamic State on Tuesday claimed responsibility for an attack on a television station in Kabul, in which gunmen disguised as police killed a security guard and opened fire on staff, the latest assault on media workers in Afghanistan.

Afghan special forces suppressed the attack on Shamshad TV, a private Pashto-language broadcaster based close to the national stadium, after about two hours, but police said at least two people had been killed and 20 wounded.

“People dressed in police clothes came in and initially threw hand grenades, which killed one of our guards and wounded another,” Abed Ehsas, Shamshad’s news director told broadcaster Tolo News TV.

“After that, others got into our building and started firing. Some of our colleagues were hit, though, thank God, many others managed to get out. Some were wounded by gunshots, falling glass and when they jumped from high floors.”

During the attack, a special forces unit blasted a hole in the concrete wall around the compound and entered the site amid a crack of gunfire. At least one attacker was killed during the operation, while another was killed at the compound entrance.

In a statement on its news agency Amaq, Islamic State claimed responsibility, without giving evidence. The group, based mainly in the eastern province of Nangarhar, has claimed a number of attacks on civilian targets in the Afghan capital.

Shortly after the beginning of the attack, the Taliban’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, issued an immediate denial of involvement.

Suicide attacks have become a grimly familiar part of daily life in Kabul, now considered one of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan for civilians. But it was also the latest in a series targeting Afghan journalists and media workers.

Last year a Taliban suicide bomber killed seven members of Afghanistan’s largest private television station, Tolo. In May, Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on state broadcaster RTA in the eastern city of Jalalabad.

Tuesday’s attack, which underlined the impression of chronic insecurity in Kabul, took place about three weeks after a series of attacks including one on a Shi‘ite mosque in the city in which more than 50 people were killed.

Shamshad TV halted normal programming during the attack, transmitting only a still image. But it resumed broadcasting after about two hours, saying the incident had ended and staff trapped in the building rescued by police.

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