Bomb kills 1, wounds 8 at press award event in Afghanistan

March 11, 2023 GMT
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An injured man lies down after a bomb blast in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital city of Balkh province, in northern Afghanistan, Saturday, March 11, 2023. A bomb exploded on Saturday during an award ceremony for journalists in the city. (AP Photo/Abdul Saboor Sirat)
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An injured man lies down after a bomb blast in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital city of Balkh province, in northern Afghanistan, Saturday, March 11, 2023. A bomb exploded on Saturday during an award ceremony for journalists in the city. (AP Photo/Abdul Saboor Sirat)

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (AP) — A bomb exploded Saturday during an award ceremony for journalists in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e- Sharif, killing at least one person and wounding eight, including children, officials said.

The blast went off at the Tabian Farhang center in Mazar-e Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, as journalists gathered for the award ceremony at 11 a.m., said Mohammad Asif Waziri, a local police spokesman.

Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor said five journalists and three children were wounded. The blast killed a security guard, he said.

The explosion came two days after a bomb in Mazar-e-Sharif killed the provincial governor, Daud Muzmal, and two others. Four people were wounded.

Among the journalists wounded on Saturday was Najeeb Faryad, a reporter for the Ariana News television station. Faryad said he felt like something hit him in the back, followed by a deafening sound before he fell to the ground.

Hujatullah Mujadidi, who heads the Association of Free Journalists of Afghanistan, said the cultural center in Balkh held the event to honor media personnel from the north of the country. He said 14 journalists were wounded.

The U.N. mission in Afghanistan condemned the attack as “despicable.”

“Violence must stop. Afghan reporters show immense courage & must be protected,” the U.N. mission said on Twitter.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the regional affiliate of the Islamic State group — known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province — is a key rival of the ruling Taliban.

Islamic State has increased its attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover of the country in August 2021. Targets have included Taliban patrols and members of Afghanistan’s Shiite minority.