As Pakistan-India tensions flare, a child mistakes a bomb for a toy

A relative displays the picture of 4-year-old Mohammad Ayan Ali, who, according to his family, was killed after he found a device that looked like a toy and exploded in his hands at home in the village of Jabri, in Neelum Valley, in Pakistan-administrated Kashmir. Pakistan's military says the device was an unexploded cluster bomb.. REUTERS/Saiyna Bashir

By Saad Sayeed

JABRI, Pakistan (Reuters) – Deep in the mountains of the Neelum Valley, where a river separates India and Pakistani Kashmir, is the small village of Jabri, usually far enough away to avoid being hit by exchanges of fire between the countries’ armies.

That changed late last month when Indian artillery shells hit the village and an unexploded device found its way into the hands of four-year-old Ayan Ali.

“He found a bomb that looked like a toy and he brought it here,” said Ali’s uncle, Abdul Qayyum, pointing to their home.

Ali showed the “toy” to his siblings as the family sat down to breakfast. It exploded, killing Ali and wounding eight of his siblings, his mother, and a young cousin.

“They tried to snatch it from him and then it exploded. He died on the spot,” Qayyum said, adding that two of the children are in hospital in critical condition.

Pakistan’s military said the device was a cluster bomb, a weapon that releases many smaller bomblets that can kill or wound people over a wider area. They are prohibited under the Geneva Convention governing international warfare.

The Indian government and army denied the allegation, and two army officials told Reuters that its shelling across the border was proportionate and in response to Pakistani fire.

On a visit to the Jabri area on Friday, a Reuters journalist was unable to independently verify the type of device that killed Ali, though there were signs of damage in the home.

A small crater in the concrete floor marked the place where Ali was standing when the device exploded.

“The little kids were playing and then there was a loud sound. There was smoke everywhere, I couldn’t see anything,” said Sadaf Siddiq, Ali’s older sister.

A shell hit another nearby home, opening a large hole in the roof but nobody inside was injured, said its 37-year-old owner Muhammad Hanif.

The Pakistan military said they had cleared a number of unexploded devices from the area. One military official showed a toy-sized device that he said was part of a cluster bomb, which could not be independently verified by Reuters.

Cross border exchanges of fire have intensified in recent years and India and Pakistan accuse each other of regularly violating a ceasefire agreement along the 740-km (460-mile) Line of Control (LoC), which serves as a de-facto border in the disputed Kashmir region.

Tensions increased this week after India set a new policy to revoke Jammu and Kashmir state’s rights to set its own laws, arrested hundreds of political leaders and activists, and severed nearly all communications from Indian Kashmir.

Both countries claim Kashmir and have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region, which they have disputed since partition and independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

(Writing by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Martin Howell and Darren Schuettler)

Authorities probing suspicious packages sent to Hillary Clinton, Obama

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stands onstage with her husband former President Bill Clinton (L) after speaking during her California primary night rally held in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., June 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

By Makini Brice and Gabriella Borter

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Federal authorities are investigating suspicious packages sent to the White House, former U.S. President Barack Obama and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secret Service and a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

A suspicious package addressed to the White House was intercepted at an off-site facility, the source told Reuters.

The suspicious packages sent to the two top Democrats as well as a bomb sent to one of their major donors came roughly two weeks ahead of the high-stakes Nov. 6 election that will determine whether Republicans maintain control of Congress in a nation that has become deeply polarized.

The package to Clinton was found late Tuesday while the one addressed to Obama was found early Wednesday, both during routine mail screenings, the Secret Service said. Both Obama and Clinton were not at risk, they added.

The White House, in a statement, condemned the attempted attacks on Obama and Clinton.

“These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. “The United States Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies are investigating and will take all appropriate actions to protect anyone threatened by these cowards.”

The FBI said it was investigating the packages.

“The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such,” the Secret Service said in a statement.

The package addressed to Clinton at her home in the New York suburb of Chappaqua was an explosive device, the New York Times reported.

The discovery of the packages came after a small bomb was found earlier this week at the home of billionaire liberal donor George Soros in the New York City suburb of Katonah, about 10 miles from the Clintons’ home.

“Nothing made it to their home,” Bill Clinton’s spokesman said in an email. A spokesman for Hillary Clinton referred queries to the Secret Service statement.

A spokeswoman for the Obamas declined to comment.

Chappaqua police said authorities in New Castle assisted the FBI, the Secret Service and Westchester County police with the investigation into the package sent to Clinton.

“The matter is currently under federal investigation,” the police said in a statement, referring questions to the FBI.

The device sent to Clinton was similar to the one found on Monday at Soros’ home, the Times reported, citing a law enforcement official.

(Reporting by Makini Brice and Steve Holland in Washington and Gabriella Borter in New York; Additional reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Suspected explosive device found at George Soros’ New York home

FILE PHOTO: Business magnate George Soros arrives to speak at the Open Russia Club in London, Britain June 20, 2016. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File Photo

(Reuters) – A package containing what appeared to be an explosive device was found in a mailbox outside the New York residence of billionaire financier George Soros on Monday, police said.

Soros, one of the world’s biggest donors to liberal groups and causes, has become a hate figure for right-wing campaigners in the United States and eastern Europe, and the target of a hostile media campaign by the nationalist government in his native Hungary.

An employee at the home in Katonah, New York, opened the package, revealing what appeared to be an explosive device. Soros was not home at the time, the New York Times reported.

Authorities were contacted at around 3:45 p.m., the Town of Bedford Police Department said in a statement.

Bomb squad technicians detonated the package in a nearby wooded area, police told the newspaper.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was looking into the incident, police said.

A Hungarian government spokesman said: “The matter falls under the jurisdiction of U.S. authorities. After all, the incident occurred there.” He declined to comment further.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; additional reporting by Gergely Szakacs in Budapest; Editing by John Stonestreet)

Putin blames fatal college attack in Crimea on localization

People place flowers and candles at a makeshift memorial near the scene of a recent attack on a local college in the city of Kerch, Crimea October 18, 2018. REUTERS/Pavel Rebrov

By Mikhail Antonov

KERCH, Crimea (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday blamed a mass shooting at a college in Crimea on localization, saying a problem that began in the United States had spread around the world through online communities on the Internet.

An armed 18-year-old student in the Black Sea port city of Kerch killed 20 people, most of them fellow pupils, and wounded dozens at his college on Wednesday, law enforcement officials said.

The suspected attacker was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after an attack that also saw a bomb set off in the college canteen. A second explosive device was found among the suspect’s personal possessions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a signing ceremony following a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia October 17, 2018. Pavel Golovkin/Pool via REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a signing ceremony following a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia October 17, 2018. Pavel Golovkin/Pool via REUTERS

“By all appearances, this is the result of localization, as strange as that may seem,” Putin said at a forum in the Black Sea city of Sochi.

“Everything started with well-known tragic events in schools in the United States. Young people with unstable minds create false heroes for themselves,” he said.

“This means that we all, not just Russia, but we across the world are reacting badly to changing conditions in the world. We are not creating necessary, interesting and useful content for young people,” he said.

Grieving residents gathered on Thursday in Kerch, laying flowers and lighting candles to mark a three-day official mourning period declared in the region. Orthodox priests sang prayers in the street, leading a memorial service near the college.

“Where were the guards?” a tearful woman at a memorial asked. “Where were the men who were there in large numbers? Why was it children who were shot dead at point blank?”

CYBERSPACE

The death toll, including 18-year-old suspect Vladislav Roslyakov, rose to 21 on Thursday, Russian agencies cited the Russian Health Ministry as saying.

The Russia-backed government in Crimea published a list of the victims, most of whom were teenagers.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, prompting international condemnation and Western sanctions, but since then there have been no major outbreaks of violence on the peninsula.

Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-backed head of the government in Crimea, said it was impossible to conceive that 18-year-old suspect Vladislav Roslyakov had prepared the attack by himself.

“On the ground, he acted alone, that is already known and established, but in my opinion and in the opinion of my colleagues this reprobate could not have carried out the preparations.”

The first deputy head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said the security services needed to have greater control over the Internet.

“For us professionals, it has long been evident that the cyberspace must be under the control of the relevant authorities. Without this, it’s impossible to guarantee the provision of information security and to combat modern terrorist threats in time,” Sergei Smirnov was quoted as saying.

(Additional reporting by Gleb Stolyarov in SOCHI, Russia; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by William Maclean)

Crimea mourns after fatal college attack

People attend a ceremony in memory of victims of a recent attack on a local college in the city of Kerch, Crimea October 18, 2018. REUTERS/Pavel Rebrov

KERCH, Crimea (Reuters) – Grieving residents laid flowers and lit candles in the Crimean port city of Kerch on Thursday, a day after an armed teenager went on a shooting rampage at his college, killing 20, most of them fellow pupils.

The suspected attacker was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after an attack that saw dozens injured and a bomb set off in the college canteen in the Black Sea region, law enforcement officials said.

Stunned residents gathered on Thursday to mark a three-day official mourning period declared in the region. Orthodox priests sang prayers in the street, leading a memorial service near the college.

“Where were the guards?” a tearful woman at a memorial asked. “Where were the men who were there in large numbers? Why was it children who were shot dead at point blank?”

The death toll, including suspect 18-year-old Vladislav Roslyakov, rose to 21 on Thursday, Russian agencies cited the Russian Healthy Ministry as saying.

The Investigative Committee said it was still working to establish the motive for the attack that recalled similar shooting sprees carried out by students in U.S. schools.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, prompting international condemnation and Western sanctions, but since then there have been no major outbreaks of violence on the peninsula.

The Russia-backed government in Crimea published a list of the victims, most of whom were teenagers.

(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Toby Chopra)

FBI nabs man it says planned July 4 attacks on Cleveland, Philadelphia

Fireworks at Morningside 7-4-17

By Makini Brice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The FBI has arrested a man who it said planned to bomb Cleveland’s Fourth of July celebrations and then stand by and watch “it go off,” federal officials said on Monday.

Demetrius Pitts, 48, who had expressed allegiance to the al Qaeda militant group, was arrested on Sunday after a meeting with an undercover FBI agent where he said he planned to plant a bomb at a parade celebrating the U.S. Independence Day holiday and intended to target other locations in Cleveland and Philadelphia.

Many major American cities mark the holiday with fireworks and parades, and typically ramp up security around such events.

An undercover FBI agent helped Pitts pick the location for his planned attack, near a planned fireworks show and multiple U.S. government buildings, the FBI said.

“I’m gonna be downtown when the – when the thing go off. I’m gonna be somewhere cuz I wanna see it go off,” Pitts told an undercover FBI agent who he believed was affiliated with al Qaeda, the FBI said in court documents.

Pitts also suggested giving the children of military personnel remote control cars packed with explosives during the parade so the kids would unwittingly detonate the bombs, the FBI said.

Pitts was charged with attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

An FBI source gave Pitts a bus pass and a phone to conduct surveillance ahead of his planned attack, prosecutors said.

Pitts, who lives in the Cleveland suburb of Maple Heights, also discussed possibly traveling to San Francisco for reconnaissance for al Qaeda, the FBI said.

It was not immediately clear if he had retained a lawyer, and relatives could not be reached for comment.

“This defendant, by his own words and by his own deeds, wanted to attack our nation and its ideals,” said Justin Herdman, the U.S. attorney for northern Ohio.

Officials said Pitts is an American citizen who had been radicalized in the United States.

In 2015, U.S. law enforcement officials said they had arrested more than 10 people inspired by the Islamic State militant group ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, saying the arrests had disrupted planned attacks.

A pair of ethnic Chechen brothers inspired by al Qaeda killed three people and injured more than 260 with a pair of homemade bombs at the Boston Marathon in 2013.

(Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg and Diana Kruzman in New York; Editing by Scott Malone, Jeffrey Benkoe, Frances Kerry and Jonathan Oatis)

Man arrested in wave of package bombs in Washington, D.C

Thanh Cong Phan, 43, is shown in this undated booking photo provided March 28, 2018. Yolo Country Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Washington state man has been arrested in connection with a series of package bombs sent to U.S. military installations and a CIA mail office in the Washington, D.C., area earlier this week, the FBI said on Tuesday.

The suspect, Thanh Cong Phan, 43, was arrested on Monday at his home in Everett, Washington, by federal agents and sheriff’s deputies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.

A U.S. security official said Phan had a history of writing incoherent letters to government officials and was believed to have mental problems. The official declined to be named during an ongoing investigation.

Court documents made public on Tuesday afternoon showed that Phan had been charged in U.S. District Court in Seattle with one count of shipping explosive materials.

Suspicious packages were received on Monday at mail processing sites at Fort Belvoir, Virginia; Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, which is a Navy-Air Force facility in the District of Columbia; and Fort Lesley J. McNair in the U.S. capital, the agency said.

The packages also turned up at mail facilities at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virginia, and the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia. None of them detonated.

“It is possible that further packages were mailed to additional mail processing facilities in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area,” the FBI said. The packages were being analyzed at the FBI laboratory at Quantico, Virginia.

Ashwin Cattamanchi, a federal public defender representing Phan, declined to comment when reached by phone.

Officials at Fort McNair evacuated a building after one of the packages was delivered, a spokesman said. An Army bomb squad confirmed that the package tested positive for explosive residue and determined a fuse was attached, he said.

Earlier in March in a separate incident at a U.S. military base, a man died after driving a minivan through the gate of Travis Air Force Base in California and igniting propane tanks and gasoline cans.

Several package bombs left on doorsteps and some sent from a Federal Express office detonated in Austin, Texas, leaving two people dead and others injured. The suspected bomber blew himself up as police closed in on him.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball, Ian Simpson and Dan Whitcomb; editing by Scott Malone, Marguerita Choy and Cynthia Osterman)

London City Airport shut after WW2 bomb found in Thames

Police officers stand by a cordon at the entrance to London City Airport, in London, Britain February 12, 2018

By Alistair Smout

LONDON (Reuters) – All flights to and from London’s City Airport were canceled on Monday after an unexploded World War Two bomb weighing half a tonne was found buried in silt in the River Thames.

Police said they expected the bomb at George V Dock in east London would be removed by early Tuesday, having set up a 200-metre exclusion zone after the ordnance was found during work at the airport on Sunday.

The Metropolitan Police said properties within the exclusion zone had been evacuated and a number of roads were cordoned off.

“The timing of removal is dependant on the tides, however, at this stage we estimate that the removal of the device from location will be completed by tomorrow morning,” police said in a statement, adding the shell was lying in a bed of dense silt.

London City Airport is the city’s fifth biggest and is popular with business travelers. It is London’s most central international airport and is close to major financial districts in the City of London and Canary Wharf.

The docklands area of London’s East End was a trading hub in the 1940s and was heavily bombed by German planes in World War Two. The airport was opened in 1987 as part of the broader regeneration of the area.

The airport told passengers not to travel there on Monday. Regional airline CityJet said its flights from the airport had been rescheduled to land and take off from London Southend airport, while Italy’s Alitalia [CAITLA.UL] said it would operate flights from London Stansted airport.

British Airways said it was trying to minimize disruption for passengers and said in a statement: “We are rebooking customers due to travel today onto alternative flights or offering refunds for those who no longer wish to travel.”

(Reporting by Alistair Smout in London and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Hours after Afghan blast, confused families searched desperately for news

The photos of two brothers, who were killed during yesterday's suicide attack at a Shi'ite cultural centre, are seen on their graves in Kabul, Afghanistan. December 29, 2017.

By James Mackenzie and Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi

KABUL (Reuters) – Hours after the explosion that tore through a Shi’ite cultural center in the Afghan capital Kabul on Thursday, desperate families were still searching for news, as burned bodies were brought in and wards at the nearby Istiqlal hospital filled up.

The explosion that tore through a cramped basement conference room killed at least 41 people and wounded more than 80 and there were hours of confusion as victims were rushed to nearby hospitals.

People dig graves for the victims of yesterday's suicide attack at Shi'ite cultural centre in Kabul, Afghanistan December 29, 2017.

People dig graves for the victims of yesterday’s suicide attack at Shi’ite cultural centre in Kabul, Afghanistan December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

“Everyone was at the hospital but at first nobody knew where they were, they were lost,” said Hasan Jan, whose nephews, Abdul Saboor Maqsoudi, 24, and brother Ali Paiman, 18, were among the dead.

“We couldn’t recognize him he was so burned and disfigured by smoke. We had to go back to the morgue three or four times,” he said after the two brothers were buried side by side in the Karte Sakhi cemetery in western Kabul.

“Finally they recognized him because of a ring on his finger and his shirt and belt and his watch.”

The attack, claimed by Islamic State, was the latest in at least two dozen bombings on Shi’ite targets in the Sunni-majority country over the past two years in a brutal campaign by the movement that has killed and wounded hundreds. According to some witnesses, the bomber in Thursday’s attack was a 10-year-old boy.

At the Tabian Social and Cultural Centre, in a large house down a lane in a mainly Shi’ite area of the city which also houses the Afghan Voice news agency, the windows are shattered and the floor is still stained with blood.

Heaped neatly in the courtyard, stands a pile of shoes belonging to victims, all that remains of the dead, many of them students attending a conference.

“They were just there for this discussion,” Hasan Jan said of his two nephews. “They wanted to learn about culture, the Quran and religion.”

“WHAT GOVERNMENT?”

In many ways, the short lives of the two brothers and the way they ended are emblematic of the lack of hope that has driven thousands of Afghans of their age to leave their country and try for a better life in Europe.

Abdul Saboor had studied civil engineering but like many young Afghans, he struggled to find work after graduation and had taken a job teaching English. His father died five years ago in another suicide attack and now that he and his brother are gone, his mother and sister are alone.

A relative morns on the grave of one of the victims, who was killed during yesterday's suicide attack at Shi'ite cultural centre in Kabul, Afghanistan December 29, 2017.

A relative morns on the grave of one of the victims, who was killed during yesterday’s suicide attack at Shi’ite cultural centre in Kabul, Afghanistan December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

“He was the breadwinner,” Hasan Jan said. “Now the family has no support, there’s no man in the family.”

Although the government of President Ashraf Ghani and its NATO allies have claimed some success against Taliban insurgents since the United States announced a more robust military strategy this year, high-profile attacks in the cities have continued.

The government itself is chronically divided, often appearing more concerned with personal rivalries between its leaders and maneuvering ahead of presidential elections in 2019 than in confronting Afghanistan’s many problems.

Asked what more the government could be doing to ensure security and stability, Hasan Jan was scornful.

“What government?” he said. “There are several governments in Afghanistan, what government do you mean?

“We’ve lost our way. What government is going to provide help? There is nothing. All we want is security forces for our country.”

But he was equally dismissive of the militants who carried out the attack, which Islamic State said was ordered because of what it said were the cultural center’s links to Iran.

“Why are they doing it here? If America is the enemy, they should find Americans. If they want to attack English, they should find English. If they want to attack Iran, they should attack Iran,” he said.

“These people are innocent. People haven’t taken up arms. People being killed in mosques, in different places. No human could accept that. If they had even a small bit of humanity in them, they couldn’t accept that.”

(Editing by Nick Macfie)

Suicide bombers kill dozens at Shi’ite center in Afghan capital

Afghan women mourn inside a hospital compound after a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan December 28, 2017.

By Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi and Akram Walizada

KABUL (Reuters) – Suicide bombers stormed a Shi’ite cultural center and news agency in the Afghan capital on Thursday, killing more than 40 people and wounding scores, many of them students attending a conference.

Islamic State said in an online statement that it was responsible for the attack, the latest in a series the movement has claimed on Shi’ite targets in Kabul.

Waheed Majrooh, a spokesman for the ministry of public health, said 41 people, including four women and two children, had been killed and 84 wounded, most suffering from burns.

The attack occurred during a morning panel discussion on the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Sunni-majority Afghanistan at the Tabian Social and Cultural Centre, witnesses said.

The floor of the center, at the basement level, was covered in blood as wailing survivors and relatives picked through the debris, while windows of the news agency, on the second floor, were all shattered.

“We were shocked and didn’t feel the explosion at first but we saw smoke coming up from below,” said Ali Reza Ahmadi, a journalist at the agency who was sitting in his office above the center when the attack took place.

“Survivors were coming out. I saw one boy with cuts to his feet and others with burns all over their faces,” he said. “About 10 minutes after the first explosion, there was another one outside on the street and then another one.”

“SMOKE EVERYWHERE”

Deputy Health Minister Feda Mohammad Paikan said 35 bodies had been brought into the nearby Istiqlal hospital. Television pictures showed many of the injured suffered serious burns.

“There was a reading and an academic discussion and then there was a huge bang,” said Sayed Jan, a participant in the conference, from his bed in the hospital.

“I felt my face burning and I fell down and saw other colleagues lying around me and smoke everywhere.”

The bloodshed followed an attack on a private television station in Kabul last month, which was also claimed by the local affiliate of Islamic State.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement on Twitter denying involvement in the attack, which was condemned by both the Kabul government and Afghanistan’s international partners including NATO and the United Nations.

“I have little doubt that this attack deliberately targeted civilians,” said Toby Lanzer, acting head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

Afghan men inspect at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan December 28, 2017.

Afghan men inspect at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan December 28, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

“Today in Kabul we have witnessed another truly despicable crime in a year already marked by unspeakable atrocities.”

Over the past two years, Islamic State in Khorasan, as the local group is known, has claimed a growing number of attacks on Shi’ite targets in Afghanistan, where sectarian attacks were previously rare.

The movement, which first appeared in eastern Afghanistan in 2015, has extended its reach steadily, although many security officials question its ability to conduct complex attacks and believe it has help from criminals or other militant groups.

Prior to Thursday’s attack, there had been at least 12 attacks on Shi’ite targets since the start of 2016, in which almost 700 people were killed or wounded, according to United Nations figures. Before that, there had only been one major attack, in 2011.

FORTIFIED ZONE

Backed by the heaviest U.S. air strikes since the height of the international combat mission in Afghanistan, Afghan forces have forced the Taliban back in many areas and prevented any major urban center from falling into the hands of insurgents.

But high-profile attacks in the big cities have continued as militants have looked for other ways to make an impact and undermine confidence in security.

The attacks have increased pressure on Ghani’s Western-backed government to improve security. Much of the center of Kabul is already a fortified zone of concrete blast walls and police checkpoints, following repeated attacks on the diplomatic quarter of the city.

But militant groups have also hit numerous targets outside the protected zone, many in the western part of the city, home to many members of the mainly Shi’ite Hazara community.

“This gruesome attack underscores the dangers faced by Afghan civilians,” rights group Amnesty International said in a statement from its South Asia Director, Biraj Patnaik. “In one of the deadliest years on record, journalists and other civilians continue to be ruthlessly targeted by armed groups.”

According to a report this month by media freedom group Reporters without Borders, Afghanistan is among the world’s most dangerous countries for media workers with two journalists and five media assistants killed doing their jobs in 2017, before Thursday’s attack.

According to Sayed Abbas Hussaini, a journalist at Afghan Voice, one reporter at the agency was killed in Thursday’s attack and two were wounded.

(Reporting by Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Nick Macfie, William Maclean)