Three female media workers were shot dead in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Tuesday, government officials said, amid a wave of killings that is spreading fear among professional workers in urban centres.
Zalmai Latifi, head of local broadcaster Enikas TV, said the three women were recent high school graduates aged between 18 and 20 who worked in the station’s dubbing department.
Government sources said the women were killed on their way home from work and witnesses said gunmen shot the women in the head before fleeing.
A fourth woman was injured and a hospital spokesman said she had been admitted to hospital and was fighting for her life.
According to the Associated Press, Mursal Wahidi was attacked by gunmen as she was walking home. The two others – who were identified only as Shahnaz and Sadia – were killed in a separate incident, also while returning home.
“They are all dead. They were going home from the office on foot when they were shot,” Mr. Latifi told AFP news agency.
The police meanwhile say they have arrested the lead gunman, linking him to the Taliban. The group, which is currently in a peace negotiation with the government, deny any involvement.
Police are still looking for other attackers after they arrested the main suspect, Nangarhar police chief Juma GulHemat said, according to AFP.
“We arrested him as he was trying to escape,” said Mr. Hemat. “He has admitted that he carried out the attack. He is a Taliban member.”
A wave of targeted attacks has devastated Afghanistan as the US withdraws from the country after signing a deal with the Taliban one year ago.
Enikas TV station says of 10 women it employed, four have now been killed including a presenter, Malalai Maiwand, who was gunned down in December. So-called Islamic State claimed it was behind the attack.
Last month, two women Supreme Court judges were shot dead in the capital, Kabul.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told the BBC in February that he did not fear a Taliban military takeover of the country, saying: “This is not a government that is collapsing.”
In February Nato said it had not yet decided whether its troops would leave by May as agreed under the deal with the Taliban. Around 9,000 Nato soldiers remain, of whom about 2,500 are US troops.
One of US President Joe Biden’s tasks is to decide if his government will keep to the terms of the deal signed under his predecessor Donald Trump.
This week the US special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad returned to Kabul to continue discussions with Afghan leaders and the Taliban over the faltering peace process. (Source: BBC)