Terrorism

Afghans condemn killing of female TV journalist and activist in Jalalabad

Salaam Times and AFP

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Mourners carry the coffin of Afghan news anchor Malalai Maiwand, whom gunmen killed in Jalalabad on December 10. [NOORULLAH SHIRZADA / AFP]

JALALABAD -- An Afghan news anchor and activist was shot dead by assailants Thursday (December 10), her employer said, making her the second journalist killed in a month in Afghanistan.

Malalai Maiwand, in her 20s, was killed along with her driver, Mohammad Tahir, in Jalalabad as they travelled to work, said Enekaas TV, the private television channel that employed her.

The journalist, whose activist mother was also killed by unknown gunmen five years ago, had previously spoken out about the difficulties of being a female reporter in Afghanistan.

"She was on her way to the office when the incident occurred," said Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the Nangarhar provincial governor. "Her driver was also shot and killed."

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Malalai Maiwand, pictured in an undated photograph, was killed on her way to work at Enikass TV and Radio on December 10. [Afghan Presidential Palace]

The local hospital has confirmed the deaths.

No group has claimed responsibility.

"Who has problems with women working in the Afghan society?" tweeted Fatima Murchal, the newly appointed deputy spokesperson for President Ashraf Ghani. "These coward culprits will not be forgiven, not even after peace."

Maiwand's death comes as targeted killings of prominent figures becomes increasingly common as violence surges, despite ongoing peace talks between the government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.

Threat to press freedom

The continued violence is threatening to undo years of progress, warned the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee.

"If the killing of journalists does not stop, Afghanistan will lose one of its greatest achievements which is press freedom," the committee tweeted, calling for an investigation.

Ross Wilson, the top US envoy in Kabul, condemned the "assassination" and called for the violence to stop.

Presidential spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi also condemned the "terrorist attack" against Maiwand, calling it "shocking and utterly despicable".

"The current senseless violence against our people must end," he tweeted.

Nangarhar Province and its capital, Jalalabad, have seen regular clashes between government forces and the Taliban. The "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) also has claimed several deadly attacks there.

The murder of Maiwand comes just weeks after Azadi Radio reporter Aliyas Dayee was killed in a car bombing in Lashkargah, Helmand Province, on November 12.

Dayee had previously been threatened by the Taliban, said Human Rights Watch.

Yama Siawash, a former television presenter in Kabul, was killed in a similar car bombing near his home last month.

No group has so far claimed those murders.

Intent to silence diversity of opinion

The European Union delegation, NATO mission and other diplomatic missions based in Kabul on Monday (December 7) issued a joint statement condemning recent "targeted attacks on media representatives, civil society and civilians".

"The Taliban and various terrorist organisations are responsible for the significant majority of civilian casualties in Afghanistan," the statement said.

"We consider these not only as savage attacks against Afghan blood, but as an attack on the very peace process in Afghanistan," it said.

"Recognising the bravery of Afghanistan’s people, we are confident that these attacks will fail in their intent to silence the diversity of opinions," it said. "It has never mattered more for the people of Afghanistan to feel able to express themselves freely and provide their opinions on the peace talks, as well as engage in the process, to achieve an inclusive and sustainable peace."

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Some certain circles have hands in killing of journalists in Afghanistan. The government should find this group and bring them to justice. If the government does not do so, this terrorist group will kill more journalists. The biggest achievement of Afghan government during the past twenty years are freedom of speech and the media. If the government did not prevent these killings, the journalists and the media will stop their activities and this is a bad news for the government.

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The Afghan government has failed to provide security for the journalists and members of the media. The government must take a strict decision as soon as possible to ensure security of the country's journalists. Over the past one month, we have lost about ten journalists in the country. National Directorate of Security must disclose the perpetrators of the assasination of journalists who were recently martyred. People need to know why they lose their country's journalists and correspondents every day. Every day we hear from media that a correspondent or a journalist in the country has been assassinated, but the cause is unknown. No one or group is ready to take responsibility for these assassinations. Taliban also denied their involvement in the recent assassinations of journalists in separate statements, and said that these assassinations were not the work of this group. The government of Afghanistan must arrest perpetrators of these assassinations and sentence them with capital punishment.

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Officials of Nangarhar inform about arresting the killers of Malala; however, the local journalists want the killers to be executed in public.

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In Afghanistan, the high-ranking officials and the civilians are similar to each other, because when an incidence occurs, both the high-ranking officials and the public denounce it in the same way. There is no difference between the high-ranking officials and the public.

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