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Norwegian journalist killed in suicide attack on Kabul hotel

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ press release:

IFJ Condemns Killing of Norwegian Reporter as Taliban Suicide Killers Attack Kabul Hotel

The International Federation of Journalists today condemned the killing of Norwegian journalist Carsten Thomassen, a distinguished reporter, who was one of six victims in a Taliban suicide squad attack on a luxury Kabul hotel.

Thomassen, who worked for the Oslo newspaper Dagbladet, was in Afghanistan reporting on the visit of Jonas Gahr Støre, the Norwegian Foreign Minister. There were reports that he was shot in the back. He died later in hospital while undergoing surgery. He was shot when Taliban terrorists broke into the heavily-guarded Serena Hotel.

"This attack once again shows that Afghanistan is one of the world's most dangerous spots for journalists," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "It is a terrible and sad day for Norwegian journalism. We send a message of deepest sympathy to the friends, family and colleagues of Carsten Thomassen. His death is a poignant reminder of the sacrifice and terrible losses being endured by media in conflict zones. It will strengthen our resolve to reduce the risks journalists face."

Most of the dead and injured were thought to be Afghans. Soon after the attack a Taliban spokesman contacted Afghan media to claim responsibility. He claimed that four militants with suicide vests attacked the hotel - one bomber who detonated his explosives and three militants who threw grenades and fired guns and then fled. He claimed that the attackers escaped, but security sources said that at least one had been shot dead.

For many of the journalists and others in the hotel the attack gave them a terrifying taste of the horrors of war with a series of explosions and around ten minutes of gunfire from the lobby. Witnesses described scenes of carnage inside the hotel. American special forces entered the building in pursuit of the attackers.

The IFJ is the world's largest journalists' group with more than 600,000 members in 120 countries.

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