Afghan security forces shrink 11%

Security forces from the Northern Alliance enter Kabul on November 13 2001

Security forces from the Northern Alliance enter Kabul on November 13 2001

RSF named the others as: ToloNews cameraman Yar Mohammad Tokhi; three journalists for Radio Free Europe — Ebadollah Hananzi, Sabvon Kakeker and Maharam Darani; two cameramen for Afghan network TV1, Ghazi Rasoli and Norozali Rajabi; and Salim Talash and Ali Salimi of local Mashal TV.

"These cowardly attacks are part of a pattern of violence against Afghan journalists, who display great courage every day as they practice a craft essential to democracy", Mr. Sopko said.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was "outraged" by the suicide blasts, which were claimed by the Islamic State group and left another 49 people wounded.

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders arrives at the press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 25, 2018.

The US special inspector general says the Afghan government continues to lose ground to Taliban fighters as well as ISIL.

Sanders was echoing comments by Pentagon chief Jim Mattis, who insisted the United States would stand by the Afghan people and the Kabul government.

Militants are targeting journalists in Afghanistan because they are weakened and want more news coverage in order to undermine the country's electoral process ahead of an expected vote in October, Pentagon chief James Mattis said on Monday. He said the US goal is to strengthen Afghan security forces enough to convince insurgents that they can not win on the battlefield.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, condemned the "senseless and barbaric attack" on media personnel.

The BBC said one of its Afghan reporters, Ahmad Shah, was killed the same day in a separate attack in the eastern Khost province.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced in February that the government is willing to hold peace talks with the Taliban without preconditions if the Taliban stops committing acts of terror and accepts the Afghan constitution.

Another alarm is being sounded about the war in Afghanistan, along with warnings of more attacks to come.

RSF said that since 2016, it has recorded the killings of 34 journalists in Afghanistan.

After that strike, the defiant station was back on the air within hours.

AFP's Marai joined the agency as a driver in 1996, the year the Taliban seized power.

Marai, 41, was the father of six children.

He was buried hours after his death near his home village in the Shomali Plain, north of Kabul, in a ceremony attended by heartbroken relatives, friends and colleagues.

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