Two dead in attack on Afghan TV station

Insurgents were dressed as Afghan army officers

Security personnel patrol guard near a hole in a wall made to rescue people from the Shamshad TV building after a deadly attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. An Afghan official said a pair of attackers, one of them a suicide bomber, struck the local TV station and the Islamic State group quickly claimed responsibility for the assault. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
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Two people were killed and 21 injured when a popular Afghan TV station was attacked by a gunman and a suicide bomber on Tuesday morning.

Nearly 150 other employees were held hostage for two hours as  gunfire rained down around them.

At least two insurgents dressed as Afghan army officers launched the attack at the complex that houses the national TV studios. After one of the attackers One of the attackers blew himself up at the gates, two others entered the complex, eyewitnesses told The National. Some said the attackers were carrying rocket launchers and hand grenades as well as guns.

"I had just started my work for the day, when I heard firing and explosions around half past 10 this morning," said Mirwais Stanikzai, head of current affairs in Shamshad's news division news division told The National. Mr Stanikzai was among those who were able to escape the attack in the first half-hour.

“Within minutes of the initial explosion, my colleagues and I found out that the guards at the gates had been killed and that the attackers were making their way inside. Our office is a vast complex and we were lucky to be at the far end of where the attack started, which allowed some of us to escape through other routes.”

However, Mr Stanikzai witnessed several colleagues who were injured due to the initial explosions. "Many of us were hit by flying glass and debris. While I was not hurt too badly, several colleagues were wounded due to the glass shattering and were not able to escape," he said. "We still don't know for sure who survived and who was killed," he added with concern.

ISIL was quick to claim responsibility for the attack via their Aaamaq news outlet. Though broadcasting was halted at the 24-hour station,  it resumed immediately after the last militant was killed,  and began showing a popular Turkish drama dubbed into Pashto language.

Najib Danish, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the two casualties were a male and a female security guard at Shamshad TV.

"There were two attackers and both have been killed," he added. Police sealed off the station and combed the premises and were able to rescue some of the TV staff as the attack was unfolding. .

“It was an attack on the media and on the people’s voice. It was not the first attack and probably it will not be the last,” Shamshad TV news director Abed Ehsas, who was among those who needed hospital treatment for cuts from flying glass and debris.

The United Nation’s Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the attack, calling it a “violation of laws”.

This is the second such attack on a major media outlet this year claimed by ISIL in Afghanistan. In May, ISIL insurgents stormed the offices of National Radio and Television in Jalalabad city in the southern province of Nangarhar. At least six people were  killed, and 24 injured.

The Taliban were quick to deny responsibility for the attack on Shamshad TV, although they have in the past targeted media organisations and often regard journalists as legitimate targets. In January 2016, they targeted a bus carrying employees of TOLO News, one of Afghanistan’s largest media organisations. Seven staff members were killed and several others injured.