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Journalists are Deliberate Attack Victims; Survivors Seek Help and Justice

More than a month after the deadly explosion at a gathering of journalists in the “Tibyan” center in Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh, injured journalists are concerned about their health and safety and seek help and justice with fear and despair. Journalists who have been trying for years to hear and reflect the voice of the people, but now their hearing sense is damaged and they cannot raise their voices in the oppressive atmosphere under the shadow of the Taliban. The information shows that the eardrums of 12 journalists have been torn or severely damaged. These journalists say that their hearing condition is getting worse day by day and they need surgery and treatment, but they cannot afford it. They are concerned that if their health is not addressed, they may lose their hearing ability.
  
The explosion occurred on March 11th of this year, when about 25 journalists had gathered in a program at the “Tibyan” center in Mazar-i-Sharif. Journalists were invited to the program to be appreciated, but half an hour after the start of the program, a mine planted among the participants exploded, killing two journalists and one journalism student, and injuring about 35 people, including 18 journalists. Most of the injured are journalists and media staff, and they have been injured in their necks, arms, legs, and ears. Most of them have not yet fully recovered and need help.
 
Tibyan, Balkh, Victims List
The List of Journalists who killed or injured in an explosion at a press gathering in the "Tibyan" center - Mazar-i-Sharif city, Balkh - March 11, 2023.
A number of journalists who were killed or injured as a result of an explosion at the “Tibyan” center – Mazar-i-Sharif city, Balkh – March 11, 2023.
Reporters who are injured say that their situation has been forgotten, and they call on the de facto government of Afghanistan and supporting organizations to address their situation. Reporters who say their eardrums have been torn are concerned that if treatment is not provided, they may lose their hearing permanently.
 
The Afghanistan Journalists Safety Committee has cooperated to some extent in the treatment of injured reporters, but because there are no facilities for the treatment and surgery of these reporters’ ears in Balkh, they need more financial assistance and attention. Qadim Weyar, the head of the committee, said that they are coordinating with some private hospitals to treat these reporters and transfer them to Kabul for treatment soon.
 
In addition to their suffering, injured reporters are also worried about the psychological pressures, Taliban restrictions, insecurity, and uncertain professional fate. One reporter told me that when he wanted to write about their challenges and situation, the Taliban summoned him and forced him to remain silent. The Taliban also confiscated their equipment after the explosion and have not returned it yet for unknown reasons. They call on the de facto government of Afghanistan to stop these attacks and hold the perpetrators accountable instead of harassing the victims.
 
Some of them are suspicious and protesting about the occurrence of an event where the “Tibyan” center invited journalists to a program that had no security measures or coordination. A person affiliated with ISIS who confessed to planting explosives said that he had been going back and forth to this center for computer programming courses for months, but how did the “Tibyan” center officials not notice his knowledge when he transferred explosives in his backpack instead of a computer during the journalists’ gathering. I wanted to get more information from the officials of the “Tibyan” center and the organizers of this program, but they have not yet answered the questions. The Taliban intelligence and military authorities have also not provided any information on this matter.
 
On April 2nd, the Taliban intelligence released a video of the arrest of one of the perpetrators of the explosion, in which a person named “Ainuddin” affiliated with membership in the terrorist group ISIS confesses to transferring explosives among journalists and participants in the program at the “Tibyan” center. In the video, “Ainuddin” introduces himself as a member of ISIS with his shaved head and scratched face, and confesses that he had been going back and forth to the “Tibyan” center for “excuses” of computer training for some time until he finally transferred the explosives in one of the center’s programs and left there a few minutes before the explosion.

 
The screenshot from a video released by the Taliban intelligence, in which Hussein Naderi, a reporter for Ava news agency, is identified as the person responsible for the explosion with a red symbol above his head
This image shows Hussein Naderi (on the right) and another person (on the left) wearing a black mask, moments before the explosion at the "Tibyan" center in Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh on March 11, 2023.
Photos and personal information of "Ainuddin," a self-identified ISIS member in a video released by Taliban intelligence confessing to multiple bombings, including the Tibyan center explosion
On the other hand, the information shows that in one of their videos, the Taliban intelligence has marked a red sign over the head of Hussain Naderi, a journalist working for the AVA News Agency, who is a member of the “Tibyan” group, as the perpetrator of the explosion. Hussain Naderi lost his life in that explosion. Another person can be seen sitting next to Hussain Naderi in the video and a backpack is placed between his legs in other images before the explosion. AVA News Agency wrote in a news report after the release of the Taliban intelligence video that they mistakenly identified Hussain Naderi as the perpetrator of the explosion. According to the AVA News Agency report, the person sitting on the left side of the image was the perpetrator of the explosion. 
 
The responsibility for the recent explosion in the “Tibyan” center has been claimed by the terrorist group ISIS. Previously, ISIS had claimed responsibility for a deadly explosion that occurred in December 2017 in the “Tibyan” office and AVA News Agency in Kabul. It is said that the “Tibyan” center has deep connections with Shiite religious centers in Iran and also has offices in Mashhad and Tehran. During the Republic government and the Taliban’s rule, ISIS has been responsible for many of the explosions in mosques and Shiite places in Afghanistan.

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