KABUL/ BALKH/ ISLAMABAD: An explosion during an award ceremony for journalists in Afghanistan’s northern Balkh province has killed at least one person and wounded eight others, according to a Taliban police spokesman.
The explosion took place at the Tabian Farhang centre in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of the province, as journalists gathered for the award event at 11am on Saturday, said Mohammad Asif Waziri, the Taliban-appointed spokesman for Balkh police.
“A blast has taken placed in the second police district of Balkh,” he said. Waziri confirmed the casualty toll, adding that three children were among the injured.
The incident came two days after a bomb in Mazar-i-Sharif killed the provincial governor, Daud Muzmal, and two others. Four were wounded.
A journalist based in Balkh, Mohammad Fardin Nowrozi, told the Reuters news agency that he and other journalists were injured in the explosion, but did not provide further details.
Wounded journalists also included Najeeb Faryad, a reporter for Ariana News television station, who said he felt like something hit him in the back, followed by a deafening sound before he fell to the ground, according to the Associated Press news agency.
No one has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the regional affiliate of the ISIL (ISIS) group is a key rival of the Taliban.
The 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 Shia minority.
The Taliban governor of Afghanistan’s Balkh province was killed inside his office in a suicide attack on 9th of March that was later claimed by the ISIL armed group.
The killing of Mohammad Dawood Muzammil, the provincial governor, on Thursday marked one of the highest-level attacks since the Taliban stormed back to power in 2021. A second person also died in the attack, police said.