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The extraordinary moments suicide bomb victim photographer Shah Marai risked his life to capture

From child water vendors in graveyards to shoulder carried sheep at livestock markets, photographer Shah Marai captured 20 years of Afghanistan conflict on a very human level.

Marai, a photojournalist for Agence France-Presses (AFP) since 1998, who had more than 18,000 photos distributed by the agency, was known for his ability to be in the right place at the right time.

He's now become victim to one of the things he worked so tirelessly to be the first to photograph - suicide bombings. He was killed in a blast designed to target journalists who had rushed to the site of an earlier attack.

In 2016, Marai wrote an article for AFP's Correspondent blog titled "When Hope Is Gone", which detailed the extreme difficulty of taking photographs under Taliban rule.

Here are some of the extraordinary moments Marai risked his life to capture:

Afghan balloon vendor Arash, 19, waits for customers as he walks through a neighbourhood in Kabul on January 12, 2015. Credit: Shah Marai/AFP
An Afghan boy leans against a wall as he cries on the outskirts of Kabul on October 4, 2011. Credit: Shah Marai/AFP
Afghan children who work as water vendors search for customers at the Kart-e-Sakhi cemetery in Kabul on January 12, 2015. Credit: Shah Marai/AFP

"The Taliban restrictions made it extremely difficult to work—they forbid the photographing of all living things, for example, be they men or animals," Marai wrote in his 2016 article.

To take photos he had to wear the traditional shalwar kameez outfit when going outside and kept his tiny camera hidden under a scarf wrapped around his hand.

He rarely put his name on photos, instead marking pictures "stringer" "so as not to draw unwanted attention."

An Afghan woman walks through a snow covered graveyard in Kabul, 04 January 2006. Credit: Shah Marai/AFP
An Afghan woman begs for alms as she sits on a slush-filled road as snow falls in Kabul on February 4, 2013. Credit: Shah Marai/AFP

He once had to lie to a Taliban enforcer when he was taking photos of people in line outside a bakery. To avoid being arrested he pretended he was taking pictures of the bread.

"Luckily this was in the age before digital cameras, so they couldn't check to make sure I was telling the truth," he wrote.

An Afghan woman takes a photograph with her mobile phone as she and supporters attend the election rally of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah in Jalalabad on February 18, 2014. Credit: Shah Marai/AFP
Afghan supporters of presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani kick up a cloud of dust as they leave after a gathering in the outskirts of Kunduz province, north of Kabul on March 19, 2014. Credit: Shah Marai/AFP
Smoke and flames rise from burning vehicles at the site of a bomb blast that targeted NATO forces in Kabul on July 7, 2015. Credit: Shah Marai/AFP

But everything changed after the September 11 attacks and when America invaded Afghanistan and displaced the Taliban, "Kabul became Journalistan."

"One morning, the Taliban were gone, vanishing into thin air. You should have seen it. The streets were filled with people. It was like people were coming out from the shadows into the light of life again," he wrote.

But in 2004 the Taliban started to return, and by 2014 all Western forces had left the region.

"There is no more hope," Marai wrote, after the last American troops left Kabul.

Afghan men dig graves for victims of a twin suicide attack, in Kabul on July 24, 2016. Credit: Shah Marai/AFP
Afghan policemen stand guard at a market destroyed by a powerful truck bomb in Kabul on August 7, 2015. Credit: Shah Marai/AFP
AFP's chief photographer in Kabul, Afghanistan, was killed in a suicide bombing. Credit: AFP

An ominous sentence at the end of his article read: "All I think of are cars that can be booby-trapped, or of suicide bombers coming out of a crowd."

Two years later he was killed by a suicide bomber in a crowd, disguised as a journalist. He leaves behind a family of six children, including a newborn daughter.