It isn’t unusual to wake up to the news of an explosion in the Afghan capital Kabul. As the city comes under frequent attacks—increasingly in the recent years—the morning and evening rush hours remain prime targets for terrorists to inflict the most casualties. This was one of those mornings.
I live with another journalist and we woke up to the news of an explosion. The area attacked had been targeted before on account of it being a crowded commercial area. Instinctively, we started the process of news gathering, as a reporter would in such a situation, as our colleagues around the city were doing at that very moment.
The details came in slowly, between sips of coffee, phone calls and text messages. And then, half an hour after the first reports of an explosion, came the news that there had been a second bomb. One that specifically targeted the journalists who had come to the site of the first attack.
This wasn’t the first time that insurgents have used a follow up bomb to target the responders and those who come out to help the victims of an attack. This time though it had claimed the life of someone I knew and had worked alongside.
AFP’s senior photojournalist Shah Marai Faizi had been killed. Like everyone else, I was in shock, and it took me a while to process that information.
The recent wave of insurgency hasn’t cared much for civilian life. If anything, those attacks claimed by ISIS have made it a point to target as many innocent lives as possible. They’ve worked to infect society with fear and dread, and then they’ve capitalised on it. People are weaker when broken down to their basic human emotions. And today, like too many other days, emotions in Kabul are running very basal.
I left home shortly after on an unrelated errand. I knew I would be passing close to the site of the attack and could perhaps talk to eyewitnesses. All along, I kept thinking of Shah Marai, trying to recall the last time we met.
I hadn’t known him well but our interactions were always cordial and I had followed his work closely. As a freelance reporter, my stories are often published alongside images taken by agency photojournalists, and I have had the pleasure of having Shah Marai’s photographs add another dimension to my reporting.
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