Two journalists were among 20 people killed in Kabul in twin bomb attacks on a wrestling club on Wednesday, with the second blast targeting media and emergency services at the scene of the initial explosion.
The first attack took place around 6 p.m. local time when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest in the Maiwand Wrestling Club, according to deputy spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry, Nasrat Rahimi.
Private broadcaster Tolo News said two of its journalists, Samim Faramarz, 28 and Ramiz Ahmadi, 23, died when the second explosion, a car bomb, was detonated after emergency services, journalists and police arrived at the scene.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in the predominantly Shia Qala-e-Nazer neighborhood of Western Kabul.
More journalists have been killed in Afghanistan than any other country during 2018, according to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ).
This year , 12 have died in the violence, including two in Wednesday’s attack. Another 10 journalists were killed in two attacks on the same day in April. They included a BBC reporter and a well-known photographer who had written about the dangers of reporting in the Afghan capital.
“Afghan journalists have shown incredible bravery covering the news while being repeatedly targeted by a cynical enemy,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in a statement.
Dozens of Kabul residents have also been caught up in the escalating violence. At least 34 people were killed in a suicide attack targeting Shia at an education center in Kabul last month. ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack.
The Taliban, along with other militant groups such as ISIS, routinely attack military and civilian targets in the country.
A recent UN report said the number of Afghan civilians killed in the first six months of this year has reached a record high.
In July, American diplomats met face-to-face with Taliban representatives in Qatar to discuss laying the groundwork for peace talks, according to The Wall Street Journal.
However, last month the Taliban launched a brazen attack on Ghazni, a strategic city south of the capital, seizing key buildings and engaging in gunbattles with security forces. At least 16 people were killed and 40 injured, the majority of them Afghan security forces.
During a visit to Pakistan on Wednesday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Islamabad and Washington needed to work together for peace in Afghanistan.
The Trump administration has claimed Islamabad is granting safe haven to militants who are waging a 17-year-old war in neighboring Afghanistan — a charge Pakistan denies.
Earlier this week US forces in Afghanistan confirmed the head of ISIS in the country was killed in a strike on August 25.
The death of the leader is the third time US forces have killed a self-proclaimed head of ISIS in Afghanistan since July 2016, according to the US.
The founder of the notorious Taliban-linked Haqqani network, which for decades has been responsible for kidnappings and suicide bombings against US forces and allies, has died, the Taliban announced earlier this week.