NEW YORK – Human Rights Foundation (HRF) strongly condemns last week’s Taliban suicide attack on employees of TOLO News, Afghanistan’s first 24-hour news channel. For years, TOLO and its parent company MOBY Group have operated openly under Taliban threats.
On January 20, a Taliban bomber detonated explosives, targeting a TOLO bus carrying employees during evening rush hour. At least seven journalists were killed and 26 other staff members were wounded. This attack came as a response to a TOLO report that documented mass rape of women by Taliban forces in the village of Kunduz.
“Independent media outlets like TOLO News pose a serious threat to authoritarian governments and terrorist groups alike because they cut through propaganda and expose the full extent of their crimes,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. “This cowardly suicide attack by the Taliban is a stark reminder of the hostile conditions under which journalists operate around the world and the risks they take to practice journalism and express themselves,” Halvorssen added.
In 2013, a TOLO reporter named Shakeela Abrahimkhil spoke at HRF's Oslo Freedom Forum about her experience as one of the first women to attend university and become a journalist after the fall of the Taliban regime. Last year, MOBY founder Saad Mohseni spoke at the Oslo Freedom Forum about the power of pop culture and the transformative effect media is having on Afghanistan.
Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.