January 21, 2016
KABUL - A deadly Taliban attack on a bus carrying employees of Afghanistan's biggest TV station drew widespread condemnation on Thursday, with activists denouncing it as an attack on freedom of speech and the country's young and fragile media sector.
A suicide bomber struck the minibus with workers from Tolo TV, owned by the private Moby Group, the country's biggest media organization. At least seven people were killed and 25 were wounded in the explosion late Wednesay.
The bus was hit as it was passing near the Russian Embassy, which triggered initial speculation that the mission was the target.
But the Taliban quickly claimed responsibility and said they had specifically targeted Tolo TV, calling it an "spy agency" and saying they had made good on earlier threats to attack the station. Statements said the station's vehicles had been under surveillance for some time.
Tolo is the most popular TV station in Afghanistan, providing viewers with a mixture of news, current affairs and talk shows, as well as soap operas and other entertainment. Moby Group is headquartered in Dubai and in 2012, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation took a minority stake in the company.
Along with another popular privately-owned station, 1 TV, Tolo was threatened by the Taliban in October following the broadcast of reports on the insurgents' activities in the northern city of Kunduz, which the Taliban held for three days from late September.
The Taliban said the reporting was inaccurate, designated the two stations "military objectives," and threatened unspecified consequences, referring to a report about allegations that Taliban gunmen had stormed a women's hostel in Kunduz and raped the residents. - AP
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