At least 2 killed in attack on Kabul TV station

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International desk, November 07: At least two people were killed and several others were wounded in an attack on Afghan journalists on Tuesday.

Gunmen, disguised as policemen, had stormed a Kabul television station while several members of staff were still inside the building.

The assault, claimed by the militant Islamic State (IS) group, lasted about three hours before Afghan special forces overpowered the attackers armed with guns and grenades and freed staff trapped inside the building.

“The attack has ended. According to the commander of the special forces all the staff who were inside the building have been rescued,” Shamshad TV announced shortly after the attack ended.

“I saw three attackers on security cameras entering the TV station building. They first shot the guard and then entered the building. They started throwing grenades and firing,” Shamshad TV reporter Faisal Zaland, who managed to escape through a back door, had said.

Shamshad TV, a Pashto language station that broadcasts nationwide, was transmitting a holding image instead of its normal programming during the attack.

Zaland had told AFP that security forces were in the area of the Shamshad compound in the Afghan capital “trying to bring down the attackers”.

“Many of my colleagues are still in the building,” he added at the time.

‘Attack on freedom of media’

“This is an attack on freedom of media but they cannot silence us,” Shamshad news director Abid Ehsas told rival Tolo News at a hospital in the Afghan capital where some of his wounded colleagues are being treated.

The station reported that one attacker blew himself up at the gate. Another attacker went inside and shot at staff before going up to the roof to fire on security forces.

Special forces troops had blasted their way through a wall of the compound to enter the premises of the broadcaster.

“I was in my office when gunmen wearing police uniforms attacked the building,” Ehsas said.

“They killed one of our guards and entered the building and started firing. Most of us were able to flee but some were wounded and some jumped out of the windows.” He said the station had not received any threats before the attack.

Gunshots could be heard inside the building every few minutes during the assault as more and more security forces and emergency services swarmed the area.

Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said two guards had been killed and five people wounded ─ a Shamshad employee and four firefighters.

Taliban not involved

IS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement released by their Amaq propaganda agency. The Taliban had earlier released a Twitter statement denying involvement.

Pashto is one of the official languages in Afghanistan and is spoken mainly in the south where the Taliban have a large presence.

Kabul has been rocked by a series of deadly attacks in recent weeks as the Taliban and IS step up offensives against security installations and mosques.

The attack spotlighted the dangers faced by media workers in Afghanistan as security worsens. Violence against Afghan journalists surged in the first half of 2017, a media watchdog said in July.

Last year the country suffered its deadliest year on record for journalis