Three women working for a news outlet gunned down in Afghanistan

JALALABAD, AFGHANISTAN (NYTIMES) – Three women who worked at a local news outlet were gunned down in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday (March 2), according to local officials, adding to the bloody tally of Afghan media workers and journalists who have been killed at alarming rates in the past year.

The women were on their way home from work at Enikass Radio and TV, in the bustling city of Jalalabad, when they were killed in two separate attacks, according to Shokorullah Pasoon, the manager of publishing at the station.

The victims were Mursal Hakimi, 25, Sadia, 20, and Shanaz, 20 – many Afghans have a single name – who worked in a department that records voice-overs for foreign programmes, Pasoon said.

A fourth woman was wounded in one of the attacks and taken to the hospital.

Malalai Maiwand, 26, a television and radio presenter with Enikass, was gunned down in much the same way in December. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) affiliate in the country claimed responsibility for that killing, but has not released a statement claiming Tuesday’s attack.

Major-General Juma Gul Hemat, the police chief of Nangarhar province, said law enforcement had captured the Taleban “mastermind” of the attack at one of the scenes, who was carrying a pistol with a noise suppressor.

The Taleban denied any involvement in the attacks on Tuesday. The insurgent group has been blamed for much of the wave of assassinations that began following the February 2020 peace agreement negotiated with the United States.

The women’s deaths come at a perilous time for Afghanistan, as US President Joe Biden weighs whether to stick to the May 1 date set by former president Donald Trump for withdrawing US troops.

An emboldened Taleban is set on either winning on the battlefield or forcing the Afghan government to capitulate in their peace talks in Qatar.

Following the 2001 US invasion that unseated the Taleban, Afghanistan’s media outlets and news stations emboldened a new generation of Afghans and especially women. Since 2018, more than 30 media workers and journalists have been killed in Afghanistan, according to a recent UN report.

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