KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Three women who worked for a local radio and TV station in eastern Afghanistan were gunned down Tuesday in separate attacks, the news editor of the privately owned station said.
Shokrullah Pasoon, of Enikass Radio and TV in Jalalabad, said one of the women, Mursal Wahidi, was walking home when gunmen opened fire, according to eyewitnesses.
The other two, whom Pasoon identified only as Shahnaz and Sadia, were shot and killed in a separate incident, also walking home from work. Two other people, apparently passersby, were wounded in the shooting attack.
Afghanistan is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for media workers. Tuesday’s killings brought to 15 the number of media workers killed in Afghanistan in the last six months.
The three women dubbed popular and often emotion-laden dramas from Turkey and India into Afghanistan’s local languages of Dari and Pashtu, said Pasoon.
No one claimed responsibility for the killings but in December the Islamic State group affiliate, headquartered in eastern Afghanistan, claimed the killing of another female Enikass employee, Malala Maiwand.
Talliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied any involvement in the killings. In a statement, President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack, saying “attacks on innocent compatriots, especially women, are contrary to the teachings of Islam, Afghan culture and the spirit of peace.”
The killings are part of a larger spike in targeted killings in Afghanistan in the past year coinciding with the signing of a peace deal between the United States and the Taliban in February 2020. The Taliban have denied involvement in most of the targeted killings. Both the Taliban and the government blame the other for staging the attacks to discredit the peace deal or leverage greater concessions.
The Biden administration is reviewing the deal which calls for the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops by May 1. Officials say no decision has been made .
Enikass Radio and TV is a privately owned outlet that broadcasts “news, various political, social, Islamic, educational, satirical, and engaging programs and standard dubbing of serials and movies for the people of Afghanistan,” according to its website.
The Afghan Journalists Safety Committee issued a statement condemning the killings and criticizing the government investigations of previous killings of journalists. Without elaborating, it said the investigations of past attacks are “not satisfactory at all, something that need to be changed.”
The Vienna-headquartered International Press Institute called the killings an “unspeakable act.”
In a statement, Scott Griffen, deputy director of the global press freedom organization, called on the Afghan government to find and apprehend the culprits.
“The only way to stop the spread of violence against journalists is to break the cycle of impunity, ensuring that no one who attacks or kills a journalist or media worker can get away with it,” said Griffen.