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One dead and more hurt in bombing at press awards ceremony in Afghanistan

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A bomb has exploded during an awards ceremony for journalists in Afghanistan’s Mazar-e-Sharif city, killing at least one person and wounding more, including children, officials said.

The blast happened at the Tabian Farhang centre as journalists gathered for the event at 11am on Saturday, said Mohammad Asif Waziri, the local police spokesman.

Interior ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor said five journalists and three children were hurt.

The explosion killed a security guard, he said.

It comes two days after a bomb in Mazar-e-Sharif killed the provincial governor, Daud Muzmal, and two others.

Four were wounded.

Among the journalists hurt was Najeeb Faryad, a reporter for the Ariana News television station, who said he felt like something hit him in the back before he fell to the ground.

Hujatullah Mujadidi, who heads up the Association of Free Journalists of Afghanistan, said the cultural centre in Balkh held the event to honour media personnel from the country’s north.

He said 14 journalists were injured.

The association called on authorities to pay serious attention to the security and safety of journalists in the capital and provinces, said Mr Mujadidi.

“Journalists are the real voice of Afghan people. An attack on the lives of journalists is an attack on freedom of speech and Afghan people,” he said.

The UN mission in Afghanistan has condemned the “despicable” attack, saying it is the latest unacceptable incident in the city.

It expressed its condolences for the victims and hopes for a speedy recovery for the injured.

“Violence must stop. Afghan reporters show immense courage & must be protected,” the UN mission tweeted.

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

The militant group 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.

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