Inside AFP

Mohammad Akhtar, AFP driver among 23 killed in Kabul suicide attack

AFP driver Mohammad Akhtar, a 31-year-old father of four who was among 23 people killed in a suicide attack in Kabul, was a "great friend" known for his kindness and honesty, colleagues said Monday.

Portrait de Mohammad Akhtar / © AFP


Sunday's attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State group, happened as supporters of Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum were leaving the capital's international airport after welcoming home the former warlord from exile. 

Akhtar's death comes less than three months after AFP chief photographer in Afghanistan, Shah Marai, was killed in a bomb attack.

The April 30 blast in Kabul left 25 people dead, including Marai and eight other journalists.

The health ministry on Monday warned the latest toll from the airport attack, which left at least 107 people wounded, could change. 

Akhtar -- who was related to Marai -- leaves behind a wife and four children, the youngest only a few months old.

He was on his way to the AFP bureau to work the night shift when the suicide bomber blew himself up. 

"Once again our bureau in Kabul has suffered a devastating blow," said Michele Leridon, AFP Global News Director.

"All our thoughts are with Akhtar's family and his AFP colleagues who continue to do their jobs with professionalism and great courage." 

Colleagues described Akhtar, who worked in the Kabul bureau for 11 years, as a "great friend" who was kind, calm and honest.

"He was soft-spoken, he was patient, he was very upfront," said AFP video journalist Rateb Noori.

"He never made a fuss. He kept a lot of things inside."

Afghan civilians have borne the brunt of the grinding conflict that began after the 2001 US-led invasion toppled the repressive Taliban regime. 

Militant attacks and suicide bombs were the leading causes of civilian deaths in the first half of 2018, a recent UN report showed.

The total number of civilians killed hit 1,692, the highest number for the period since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan began keeping records in 2009.

Another 3,430 people were wounded, the report said.

Suicide bombs and "complex" attacks that involve several militants accounted for 1,413 casualties -- 427 deaths and 986 injuries -- up 22 percent from a year earlier.

If that trend continues, the figure will top the 2017 full-year record of nearly 2,300 casualties.