September 25, 2019 / 7:26 AM / a month ago

Afghan journalist dies of wounds from blast at president's campaign office

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - An Afghan journalist died in hospital on Wednesday of wounds suffered from the bombing of President Ashraf Ghani’s election campaign office in the southern city of Kandahar, a television station official said.

Abdul Hamid Hotaki is the first journalist killed in attacks during the run-up to Saturday’s presidential election, Afghanistan’s fourth since U.S.-led forces in 2001 toppled the Islamist Taliban regime, which has vowed to disrupt the vote.

“Our reporter...was injured in the explosion at the Ghani campaign office on Tuesday and he passed (away) due to severe injuries,” said Sediqullah Khaliq, director of the Hewad television station, where Hotaki worked.

Hotaki had been at a neighboring hospital when he was caught in the blast. Three other people, including a child, were killed and seven injured, a spokesman for the Kandahar city police said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

An interior ministry spokesman blamed the attack on the Taliban, which bombed a Ghani campaign rally last week in the central city of Charikar, killing 26.

The Ghani campaign was not immediately available for comment.

With 13 deaths in 2018, Afghanistan was the deadliest country in the world to be a journalist, the Committee to Protect Journalists has said.

On a single day last year, nine journalists covering a blast were killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul, and another reporter was shot, in the deadliest day for the Afghan media since 2001.

Reporting by Ismail Samim and Sarwar Amani in Kandahar and Abdul Qadir Sediqi in Kabul; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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