Afghan election monitor dies after rush-hour ambush

By Salaam Times and AFP


Head of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan Mohammad Yousuf Rasheed is seen here in an undated YouTube video posted on the organisation's website. [FEFA/YouTube]

KABUL -- A prominent Afghan civil society activist who led an independent election monitoring organisation died Wednesday (December 23) after being ambushed by gunmen in Kabul, an aide and police said.

Mohammad Yousuf Rasheed was attacked as he headed to work in his car, the latest targeted killing in the capital.

"He was wounded and later died in the hospital," colleague Abdul Wahab Qarizada told AFP, adding that Rasheed's driver was wounded in the ambush.

Rasheed was head of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) which, according to its website, has worked since 2004 to promote democracy, good governance and human resource management.


Family members take part in the funeral procession of Afghan journalist Rahmatullah Nekzad in Khwaja Omari District of Ghazni Province on December 22, a day after he was killed by gunmen. [AFP]

He was on his way to participate in the inauguration of a peace advocacy group in Kabul when he was ambushed, Radio Free Afghanistan reported.

Kabul police spokesman Ferdows Faramarz confirmed the attack.

The top US diplomat in Afghanistan, Ross Wilson, condemned Rasheed's "murder", calling it "another in a cacophony of senseless and endless violence".

"Yousuf Rasheed was a dedicated and steadfast advocate for representative democracy in Afghanistan," he said in a social media post. "He worked tirelessly for years to ensure free and transparent elections that engaged all Afghans."

In a separate attack Wednesday, a police vehicle was targeted by a sticky bomb in eastern Kabul, the Associated Press reported. The blast killed one police officer and wounded two others, according to Faramarz.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Violence surges

Rasheed's murder follows a similar pattern in recent weeks, where prominent Afghans have been ambushed during the often-chaotic morning traffic.

High-profile figures including journalists, politicians and rights activists have been targeted as violence surges in Afghanistan despite peace talks between the government and Taliban.

Five people, including two women doctors who worked at Pul-e-Charkhi prison, were killed Tuesday by a bomb affixed to their vehicle.

Among those killed was Nazefa Ibrahimi, the acting health director of the prison, while another woman doctor remains in serious condition, AP reported.

Two other prison employees in the car and a pedestrian were killed in the blast, Afghanistan's prison authority said.

The "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" Khorasan branch (ISIS-K) claimed responsibility for the attack.

A car bomb targeting lawmaker Khan Mohammad Wardak on Sunday killed 10 people in Kabul and wounded more than 50, including Wardak.

Days earlier, Kabul Province Deputy Governor Mahbobullah Mohebi was killed in a similar attack, along with his secretary, who was travelling with him. Two bodyguards were wounded.

7 journalists killed this year

Afghan journalist Rahmatullah Nekzad was shot dead Monday in Ghazni in what appeared to be yet another targeted killing.

Nekzad was the head of the journalists' union in Ghazni Province. He had contributed to AP since 2007 and had previously worked with Al-Jazeera broadcast network.

No group has claimed Nekzad's murder so far, and the Taliban have denied responsibility.

Nekzad was the seventh media worker to be killed so far this year in Afghanistan, said the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee.

On December 10, news anchor and activist Malalai Maiwand was fatally shot in Jalalabad.

Azadi Radio reporter Aliyas Dayee was killed November 12 in a car bombing in Lashkargah, Helmand Province. Dayee had been threatened by the Taliban, according to Human Rights Watch.

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

No group so far has claimed those murders.

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Mr. Rasheed was a honest man who was cowardly martyred by the enemies of peace and democracy. May God have mercy on him.


Yousuf Rasheed was one of the most honest persons. He was supporter of justice and democracy, and has done valuable services for the fulfillment of justice and the ideals of the oppressed people of Afghanistan over the past twenty years. His death is a great loss for the honorable nation of Afghanistan. The enemy silenced the loud voice of democracy with the assassination of Yousuf Rasheed. I ask paradise from God for this committed cadre and patience for his survivors.