The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed responsibility for the killing of three women working for a local radio and TV station in eastern Afghanistan, the latest in a spike of targeted killings across the country.
Dozens of people yesterday gathered for the funerals of the three media workers.
The women were on Tuesday gunned down in separate attacks, the news editor of the privately owned station and officials in Nangarhar Province said.
Afghan officials said that police arrested the alleged killer of the three, identifying him as Qari Baser and insisting that he is a Taliban — a claim promptly denied by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
Baser had used a pistol with a silencer in the attacks, Nangarhar Police Chief Brigadier General Juma Gul Hemat said, adding that he was arrested shortly after the attacks by police in Jalalabad, the provincial capital.
The IS claim, posted late on Tuesday, contradicted the Afghan government’s accusations against the Taliban.
The militants said that the three female journalists were targeted because they worked for one of the “media stations loyal to the apostate Afghan government” in Jalalabad.
It was not the first attack against women working at Enikass Radio and TV. In December last year, IS claimed the killing of another female employee there, Malala Maiwand.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned Tuesday’s attack, saying that assaults on “innocent compatriots, especially women, are contrary to the teachings of Islam, Afghan culture and the spirit of peace.”
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 past six months.
The slayings of the women 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 US and the Taliban in February last year.
The Taliban have denied involvement in most of the targeted killings. The Taliban and the government each blame the other for staging the attacks to discredit the peace deal or leverage greater concessions.
Enikass Radio and TV news editor Shokrullah Pasoon quoted eyewitnesses as saying that one of the women, Mursal Wahidi, was walking home when gunmen opened fire.
The other two, whom Pasoon identified only as Shahnaz and Sadia, were shot and killed in a separate incident, also walking home from work, while two other people, apparently passersby, were wounded in the shooting attack.
The three women dubbed popular and often emotion-laden dramas from Turkey and India into Afghanistan’s local languages of Dari and Pashtu, Pasoon added.
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