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Afghanistan 15 January 2008

Attacks on civilians condemned after Norwegian journalist killed by Taliban violence in Kabul

Reporters Without Borders offers its heartfelt condolences to the family and colleagues of Carsten Thomassen, a Norwegian journalist employed by the Oslo-based daily Dagbladet, who was fatally injured in an armed Taliban attack on a luxury hotel in Kabul yesterday.

“Civilians, including journalists, are the victims of the indiscriminate suicide attacks being used with increasing frequency by the Taliban and their jihadist allies,” the press freedom organisation said. “Five journalists were killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2007. These attacks on Afghan and foreign civilians are war crimes, and we firmly condemn them.”

Two German journalists were killed in Afghanistan in October 2006. The police never completed the investigation into their deaths.

Thomassen sustained serious stomach injuries in yesterday’s suicide attack on the Serena Hotel and died in the Czech Republic after being evacuated there during the night.

He was part of a group of journalists accompanying Norwegian foreign minister Jonas Gahr Stoere on a visit to Kabul. Stoere, who was in the hotel at the time of the attack, was not hurt but a Norwegian diplomat was seriously injured.

The attack, which has been claimed by the Taliban, left a toll of eight dead and six wounded. It was carried by several men armed with grenades and AK-47 rifles, one of whom blew himself up in the entrance to the hotel, which is located in the centre of Kabul near the presidential palace and many foreign embassies.

Aged 38, Thomassen was based in Oslo and covered foreign affairs for Dagbladet, which is one of Norway’s leading dailies. “We are distraught and stunned,” editor Anne Aasheim said.


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