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ISIS attack on Afghanistan's Shamshad TV station leaves multiple casualties, heightens threat for media in the country

Two attackers are said to have set of an explosion at the gates before breaking in and opening fire at employees of Shamshad TV station in Kabul. (Photo: ASJF)
by Sayer Zaland, President ASJF

KABUL, November 7, 2017 - Armed gunmen broke into the Kabul offices of Afghanistan’s 24-hour satellite TV station Shamshad after setting off explosions reports confirm.

Shamshad is one of the nation’s biggest TV channels known for having powerful voice in promoting free reporting and sport in the country.

According to officials in Shamshad, one collogue has been killed while 20 other journalists are said to be injured, with six more in critical condition. Other non-confirmed reports state that as many as six people have been killed, with more than 25 are wounded.

The attack comes a day after a statement was published by ISIS warning journalists and media outlets to cease working and ordering armed insurgents to kill anyone involved in the media in Afghanistan.

"The attack has ended. According to the commander of the special forces all the staff who were inside the building have been evacuated," Shamshad TV announced as it went back on the air in an act of defiance just moments after the attack.

"This is an attack on freedom of media but they cannot silence us," Shamshad news director Abid Ehsas told local media at a hospital in the Afghan capital where some of his wounded colleagues were being treated.

The station reported that one attacker blew himself up at the gate. Another attacker went inside and shot at staff before going up to the roof to fire at security forces.

Special Forces troops had blasted their way through a wall of the compound to enter the premises of the Pashto-language broadcaster.

An Islamic State group website claimed responsibility for the attack. Taliban insurgents issued an immediate denial that they were involved.

Last year, a Taliban suicide bomber killed seven members of Afghanistan's largest private television station, Tolo.

Shamshad TV News Manager Abid Ihsas told the Afghanistan Sports Journalists Federation (ASJF) that they were inside their offices when gunmen attacked the station “I was inside when gunmen attacked the building," Ehsas said.

"They killed one of our guards and entered the building and started firing. Most of us were able to flee but some were wounded and some jumped out of the windows."

Shamshad Radio Manager, Tair Zaland, the brother of ASJF President Sayer Zaland was also wounded slightly and was inside the building during gunfire.

According to him they fled from the second floor from windows to the back of the building and came out from the Olympic office area connected to Shamshad TV building.

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