BEIRUT — A car bomb detonated by the Islamic State group lightly wounded several journalists in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa on Wednesday and totally charred one of their vehicles, activists and media officials said.
Local and international journalists have been going to Raqqa to cover the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces offensive to capture the city that began on June 6. The Kurdish-led group now controls half of the city.
The extremists have been using suicide car bomb attacks on the Kurdish-led force in an attempt to slow down the force’s ongoing offensive under the cover of airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Kurdish official Nawaf Khalil said the blast occurred in the eastern neighborhood of Mishleb outside a house used as a press center. The neighborhood was captured by the SDF weeks earlier.
Journalist Yazir Othman of the Arab 24 network said several journalists including some with his network suffered bruises because of the blast.
“We were in a safe neighborhood and a car came from underground, we don’t know where it came from,” Othman told The Associated Press in a voice message.
Khalil, the Kurdish official, said also among those lightly injured were staffers with the Kurdistan 24, or K24, TV station.
It was not immediately clear if IS hit the building with the aim of targeting journalists. The extremist group has brutally killed journalists and media activists in their custody in the past.
In 2015, the group beheaded Japanese journalist Kenji Goto. A year earlier they killed American journalist James Foley and American-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff.
The group released a video last year showing the killing of five Syrian media activists, including one whose video camera they rigged with explosives and detonated while it was tied around his neck. Another was electrocuted, the third had his laptop detonated close to him, and two others were beheaded.