Three media workers were shot dead on Tuesday in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad while walking home from work.

Local broadcaster Enikass TV said the women killed were its employees. Zalmai Latifi, director of the station, said they were gunned down in two separate attacks after leaving the network.

“They are all dead. They were walking home from the office when they were shot,” said Latifi.

Two other people, apparently passers-by, were injured in the shootings.

Latifi said the three women were recently high school graduates between the ages of 18 and 20.

No group took responsibility for the attacks.

Nangarhar Police Chief Juma Gul Hemat said an armed suspect was later detained after the shootings.

“We arrested him when he was trying to escape,” said Hemat. “He admitted that he carried out the attack. He is a member of the Taliban. “

However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied that the group was involved in the killings.

The body of one of the women killed by gunmen in Jalalabad city is being taken to hospital [Sadaqat Ghorzang/AP Photo]

“Contrary to the teachings of Islam”

The three women named popular and often emotionally charged dramas from Turkey and India in the Afghan national languages ​​Dari and Pashtu, said the news editor of the private broadcaster
Shokrullah Pasoon.

In a statement, President Ashraf Ghani condemned the killings, saying “Attacks on innocent compatriots, especially women, are contrary to the teachings of Islam, Afghan culture and the spirit of peace”.

Journalists, religious scholars, activists and judges have recently been hit by a wave of political assassinations that have spread panic across Afghanistan and forced many to hide – some even fled the country.

In January, 28-year-old Bismellah Adel Aimaq, editor-in-chief of radio station Sada-e-Ghor (voice of Ghor), was killed near the town of Firoz Koh in Ghor province.

In December, armed men killed Malala Maiwand, a news anchor in Enikass, and her driver in Jalalabad. A member of the armed group ISIL (ISIS) based in eastern Afghanistan assumed responsibility for the killing.

The Security Committee for Afghan Journalists issued a statement condemning the killings on Tuesday and criticizing the government’s investigation into previous murders of journalists.

Without going into detail, it was said that investigations into past attacks were “not at all satisfactory, something that needs to be changed”.

The Vienna-based International Press Institute described the murders as an “unspeakable act”.

Dwindling peace process

Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for media professionals. Tuesday’s killings brought the number of media workers killed in the country to 15 in the past six months.

The killings have increased since peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban began last year – the latest attempt to end decades of conflict.

Afghan and US officials have blamed the Taliban for the wave of violence, but the group has denied the allegations.

“These attacks are designed to intimidate and make reporters crouch. The perpetrators hope to suppress freedom of expression in a nation where the media has flourished for the past 20 years. This cannot be tolerated, ”the US embassy in Kabul said in a statement.

The killings come as US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad returned to Kabul this week to meet with Afghan leaders to revive a flagging peace process.

Khalilzad’s arrival marks the first time he has returned to Afghanistan since US President Joe Biden took office in January and asked him to remain in his post.

Donald Trump’s administration, which wanted to end the longest war in the United States, tasked the veteran diplomat with negotiations with the Taliban, which culminated in an agreement signed in Qatar on February 29 last year.

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