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Tributes for AFP chief photographer killed in Kabul suicide bombing

Shah Marai, Agence France-Presse’s chief photographer in Kabul, has died following a suicide bombing in the Afghan capital on April 30.

Shah Marai, Agence France-Presse’s chief photographer in Kabul, died on April 30. Photo: AFP Shah Marai, Agence France-Presse’s chief photographer in Kabul, died on April 30. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP

Marai joined AFP as a driver in 1996, the year the Taliban seized power, and began taking pictures on the side, covering stories including the US invasion in 2001.

In 2002 he became a full-time photo stringer, rising through the ranks to become chief photographer in the bureau. He leaves behind six children, including a newborn daughter.

In a statement posted on Twitter, AFP’s Global News Director, Michele Leridon said the news was a “devastating blow” to colleagues and the organisation.

News of Marai’s death prompted a flood of tributes on Twitter.

Ministry spokesman Wahid Majroh told Afghanistan’s largest private TV channel Tolo news that at least 27 people were wounded and rushed to hospital. Marai was among three journalists reportedly killed in the blast.

“The bomber disguised himself as a journalist and detonated himself among the crowd,” police spokesman Kabul Hashmat Stanikzai said.

In 2016, Marai wrote a blog, When Hope Is Gone, for AFP detailing his life in Afghanistan, and how the return of the Taliban more than a decade after the American invasion in 2001 was once again devastating the country.

“Fifteen years after the American intervention, the Afghans find themselves without money, without work, just with the Taliban at their doorstep,’ he wrote. “I have never felt life to have so little prospects and I don’t see a way out. It’s a time of anxiety.”

Mahfouz Zubaide, a BBC News producer based in Afghanistan, paid tribute to Marai in a piece written for the Corporation’s website.

“Throughout it all Shah Marai was calm, smiling and positive. He was never scared of danger,” he wrote.

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