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A suicide bomber on a motorcycle who struck near the Russian embassy in Kabul on Wednesday targeted a van full of employees from Tolo News, Afghanistan's first 24-hour TV news channel, according to the Afghan capital's chief of police.
Seven employees of the Moby Group, the company that owns Tolo News, were killed in the attack, according to Lotfullah Najafizada, the head of Tolo News.
At least 24 people — all civilians — were wounded in the attack. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Since it launched in August 2010, Tolo News has become one of the most popular and active news outlets in Afghanistan, employing dozens of journalists, including many in the country's most volatile provinces. The Taliban vowed last year to target the outlet over what it perceived to be unfavorable coverage. Tolo News reported allegations of summary executions, rape, kidnappings and other abuses by Taliban fighters during the battle for Kunduz, a northern city that the militants briefly captured last year.
Afghanistan is among the world's most dangerous countries for journalists, ranking 122 out of 180 in the World Press Freedom Index compiled by the group Reporters Without Borders.
The US Embassy in Kabul issued a statement condemning Wednesday's attack.
"Murdering those who work to enlighten, educate, and entertain will not stop Afghans from exercising their universal human right to freedom of expression," the statement said. "A vibrant media is one of the great successes of the Afghan people over the past 14 years. We stand with the Afghan people and the Afghan government as they work to build peace and security in the country."
Since the start of the new year, Kabul has seen at least six bomb attacks. A rocket landed near the Italian embassy in Kabul on Sunday, wounding two security guards.
The attacks have coincided with renewed efforts to revive the peace process with the Taliban which broke down in July.
Representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States, who met in Kabul this week to lay the ground for a negotiated end to 15 years of war, urged the Taliban to join peace talks.
This is a breaking news story. Please check back for further updates.
Reuters contributed to this report
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