War reporter talks about burying photojournalist friend

Several of Mujib Mashal's friends and colleagues were killed in Afghanistan one week ago. It was the single deadliest...

Posted: May 7, 2018 11:06 AM
Updated: May 7, 2018 11:06 AM

Several of Mujib Mashal's friends and colleagues were killed in Afghanistan one week ago. It was the single deadliest day for journalists in the country since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

So how is Mashal coping with the pain?

"I write it."

Mashal is The New York Times' senior correspondent in Afghanistan.

"The emotions that I feel, the loss that I feel, I try to put that into words and share," he said on Sunday's "Reliable Sources."

He said he believes "people do connect" through stories about far-off war zones: "Even if it's for a moment when they're reading their paper, they pause, and they do think about the pain for a little bit."

Mashal's friend Shah Marai, AFP's chief photographer in Kabul, was killed in one of the bomb blasts last Monday. A total of nine journalists were killed in the blasts, and a tenth journalist was killed in a shooting in another part of the country.

Related: Journalist killings in Afghanistan: 'An attack on the global media'

After the attacks, Mashal and other reporters "ended up at the same hospital, the same morgue that we would usually go to report from. This time, we went there to mourn, to be there with our friends, to be with the families."

"We almost forgot about the reporting for most of the day," he said.

A photo on the front page of the next day's Times showed the funeral procession for Marai.

Mashal said Marai had taken "hundreds and thousands of photos just like that."

"To realize that, one day, he ends up like that, he ends up on the front page of the paper, it does break my heart," he said.

Mashal said many Afghan journalists have left the country in recent years, partly due to the dangers associated with the job.

Mashal sometimes reports from other countries in the region. But he said he wants "to continue this struggle of highlighting the human toll of this war."

The United States has had troops in Afghanistan for nearly 17 years.

"The story of how widespread the suffering is still needs to be told, because the war is getting forgotten," Mashal said.

He agrees with the common characterization of Afghanistan as "the forgotten war:" "Where else around the world do you have 50 people dead in a day, and it gets such little attention?"

So Mashal writes.

He said it's a privilege to share. "And it helps me feel a little lighter."

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