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Three Female Journalists Shot Dead in Nangarhar as Targeted-Killings Continue

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KABUL: Three female Afghan journalists were shot dead in Jalalabad, the capital city of eastern Nangarhar province on Tuesday as the brazen continuation of serial killings of journalists and the string of targeted-killings continue to take more lives in Afghanistan.

The three slain female anchors were working for a private TV channel “Enikass Radio Television” and were targeted by unknown gunmen while they were heading home from work. 

Two other pedestrian women were wounded in two back-to-back terrorist attacks, security and TV officials said.

Nangarhar Police Spokesman, Fareed Khan confirmed there has been an attack involving shootings. But fell short to provide more details. Though, one assassin has been detained on the spot, but police said it has launched a serious probe to find the culprits.

“Unknown armed men on Tuesday around 4:30pm local time, opened fire and martyred three female employees in two different parts of Jalalabad city” Enikass Radio Television said in a statement.

The victims identified as Sadia and Shahnaz were killed in PD-1 and the third one was Mursal Habibi who was shot dead in PD-4 of the city in two separate shootings. They were assassinated in a series of coordinated attacks. 

Another female journalist, working for the same media outlet, Malala Maiwand along with her driver was assassinated in the daylight in December of last year by armed men. The same tactics were used in her killing. Enikass Television is the most popular television channel operating in Nangarhar province, and it’s the third time that its employees came under deadly attacks. Enikass Television is airing its programs-both news and entertainment shows – in three eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Laghman and Kunar.

The assassinators have managed to flee the area, Enikass said in a statement. Footages have shown the two of three killed journalists were covered with blood laid down in the busy street.

Nangarhar Public Health Spokesman, Gulzada Sangar said they have received three female dead bodies and two injured women. No words about the health conditions of the two wounded women.

Undoubtedly, these chains of terrorist attacks are part of the recent targeted-killings around the county, which continue for the past more than one year and it has been accelerated with the start of intra-Afghan talks in Doha.

Such deliberate attacks continue to take toll from journalists, civil society activists, intellectuals, religious leaders, female employees, judges, doctors and of course the members of Afghan security forces.

The Afghan government all the time put blame on the Taliban for such targeted-killings and the Taliban did not waste a minute to deny their involvement.

President Ashraf Ghani has strongly condemned the terrorist attack, terming it “unforgivable crime” committed by “the terrorists.”

“Terrorist attacks on our innocent citizens, especially on women, are in contradiction with the teachings of Islam, Afghan culture and spirit of peace and complicate and prolong the ongoing crisis and war,” Mr. President quoted in a statement issued by his office.

Another dreadful day for the media in Afghanistan, UNAMA said, while expressing grieves with the families of the female media professionals killed on Tuesday in Jalalabad. The UN has called for prompt, transparent and independent investigations into these brutal killings.

Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) has strongly condemned the assassination of three staff members of the Enikass TV, dubbing department in two separate shootings in Jalalabad. It expressed its condolences and grief to the family and friends of these martyrs.

However, the current approach of security agencies towards investigating these incidents and sharing information with the media community is not satisfactory at all–something that needs to be changed, AJSC said in a statement.

The government must take practical and effective steps to ensure the safety and security of journalists as civilians. “AJSC believes that if the current trend continues, Afghanistan’s most important achievements, freedom of expression and independent media will be vanished.”

The US embassy termed the shooting as devastating news. “As Afghan journalists across the country face threats, three female media workers have been gunned down,” the US embassy said in a series of tweets.

“We must end impunity with open and transparent investigations into these vicious murders. We call on the government to defend free freedom and protect journalists. The perpetrators must be held accountable and stop their terrorism against Afghan civilians.”

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