KABUL: Three women working for a local TV broadcaster in Afghanistan were shot dead in two separate incidents on Tuesday. The killings appear to be the latest in a series of targeted attacks on journalists and members of civil society.
The women were attacked in two parts of eastern Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar province, close to the border with Pakistan. The Enikass TV employees, one of whom was wearing a burqa, were walking home from work when gunmen opened fire, local officials said.
Another female journalist employed by the broadcaster was killed in similar circumstances in December in the same city.
“Today was another bad day for Enikass TV … we lost three of our women colleagues,” said Zalmai Latifi, the company’s director.
In a message posted on Twitter, Shaharzad Akbar, head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said: “Horrific. Afghan media community has suffered too much. Afghan women have been targeted and killed too often. Beautiful Nangarhar has experienced almost daily violence for so long. Afghanistan has bled for too long. This must stop. Stop killing civilians and destroying Afghanistan’s future.”
Sher Shah Hamdard, the head of a safety committee for journalists in Nangarhar, said the murders have “created serious concern for the media, and the government needs to pay serious attention to the security of journalists.”
The Taliban distanced itself from the killings and no group immediately claimed responsibility. Daesh sympathizers are also known to be active in Nangarhar.
At least 14 members of civil society, many of them journalists, have been killed in targeted attacks and bomb blasts in the past year in Afghanistan. The Afghan government and US officials suspect the Taliban is behind many of the incidents, while the Taliban accuses the government of orchestrating them. Representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan government have been negotiating for months in Qatar as part of a US-sponsored effort to find a political settlement that can end more than four decades of conflict in the country.
Afghanistan has long been one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, but the recent spate of attacks and killings is unprecedented. Last week, gunmen killed three relatives of a journalist who was assassinated in January in central Ghor province. On Feb. 11, the head of a journalists’ union was wounded in an attack in northern Faryab province.