Armed militants stormed a private TV station in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul on Tuesday, in an attack in which the gunmen reportedly dressed as police officers. The staff of the Shamshad TV Network managed to get back on air shortly after the violence ended.
There are reports of casualties. The Pajhwok Afghan news outlet reports that “TV officials said two attackers, wearing police uniforms, were gunned down by security forces.” The BBC, which is a broadcast partner with Shamshad, says a security guard was also killed.
The TV and radio network is inside a walled compound. From Islamabad, NPR’s Diaa Hadid reports:
“The gunmen detonated explosives at the gate and then stormed Shamshad Television in Tuesday’s attack. Local media reported that television staff tried to flee; one woman jumped out of a window, and more than 20 people were wounded.
“Afghan security forces battled the militants, and two hours after the siege began, the station went back on air to report — on the attack. In a statement to its media outlet, Islamic State claimed responsibility.”
Diaa adds, “Afghanistan is one of the world’s most dangerous places to work as a journalist.”
Shamshad employees tell TOLO News that after the sound of an explosion and gunfire, they scrambled to get out of the building. Many escaped “with the help of the National Olympic Committee’s officials whose offices are next door to Shamshad TV,” TOLO reports. The station says at least 200 people were working when the attack began.
“We were in the newsroom when we heard the explosion. Everyone escaped from the windows,” a reporter named Khurshidi tells TOLO.
A Shamshad Radio Station employee identified as Aziz said, “We saved our sisters first and then I jumped out of the window, but I have no idea what happened next.”
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul condemned the attack, with Special Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Hugo Llorens saying, “Violent extremists seeking to harm Afghanistan’s courageous journalists will not succeed in stifling the freedom of the press.”