A horrific attack targeting the headquarters of a television station in Kabul, Afghanistan, killed at least two people and wounded 20 others. But perhaps what most Afghans will remember from this incident was the look of defiance in the anchor’s face after the fact.
Parwiz Safi, Shamshad TV’s news anchor, had just been the victim of an attack carried out by gunmen disguised as police officers. After the station was forcefully taken off the air for nearly four hours, it resumed broadcasting with an injured Safi staring defiantly into the camera and saying, “We will continue our broadcast.”
The incident involved two gunmen dressed in police uniforms who were able to enter the station after opening fire at its entrance. At the time, about 150 employees were present. Afghan security forces were eventually able to shoot the attackers and kill them.
According to Safi, they were not aware of who carried out the attack.
“That is for security forces to find out,” he said.
Supporters of the Islamic State group, however, later claimed responsibility.
Still, as he stared into the camera, 20 of his colleagues had been injured — some badly. As they were treated in a hospital, Safi sat at his anchor’s desk with a bandaged hand.
As he continued with the show, interviewing the head of the nation’s journalists’ union, the country watched in awe of the courage he and his colleagues inspired, simply because they were up and running after such a tragic incident.
Militants may have wanted to strike down speech by attacking a news outlet, but Afghan journalists were not going to let that bring them down.
If this attack was carried out by the Islamic State group’s affiliate in South Asia, this is their second strike in a month in the region, as they carried out a suicide bombing at a Shiite Muslim mosque in Kabul that claimed 50 lives.
As security forces in the country appear to lose their war against terrorism, Afghan journalists and media personnel are some of the first to be attacked. A state television station in Jalalabad was first attacked in May while two media personnel were killed in a central Kabul bombing.
After the latest horrific attack, Amnesty International’s deputy South Asia director, Omar Waraich, said the massacre shows just how difficult it is for Afghan journalists to continue working in the country.
“The attack on Shamshad TV is a horrific crime that tragically demonstrates the risks Afghanistan’s journalists face for their legitimate work,” he said. “The Afghan authorities must do what they can to protect the country’s media, allowing them to work freely and without fear.”
Unfortunately, Waraich added, European countries that send Afghan asylum seekers back on the grounds that Afghanistan is not at war are also making it harder for people to live in peace.
We hope this symbol of resistance and defiance will help the Afghan people stand strong against terrorism, especially as those tasked with the chore of bringing the hard news to the population are directly attacked.