Terrorism

Afghans outraged by assassination of 3 female media workers in Jalalabad

By Salaam Times and AFP

Outrage rippled through Afghanistan as funerals were held for three female employees of an Afghan local TV station who were gunned down in Jalalabad on March 2. The three women were shot and killed in two separate attacks just 10 minutes apart after they left their office. [Noorullah Shirzada/AFPTV/AFP]

JALALABAD -- Outrage rippled through Afghanistan Wednesday (March 3) as funerals were held for three female employees of the Enikass TV station who were gunned down in Jalalabad on Tuesday.

The three women were shot and killed in two separate attacks just 10 minutes apart after they left the private television station, in what one colleague described as an orchestrated hit.

The "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria"'s Khorasan branch (ISIS-K) later claimed responsibility for the attacks. It described the women as "journalists working for one of the media stations loyal to the apostate Afghan government".

The gunmen assassinated Mursal Wahidi, Sadia Sadat and Shahnaz Raofi as they were on their way home from work, Enikass director Zalmay Latifi confirmed in a telephone interview with the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

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Relatives and mourners March 3 in Jalalabad perform funeral prayers over the coffin of one of the three female media workers shot to death in two separate attacks. [Noorullah Shirzada/AFP]

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Hospital workers and relatives March 2 in Jalalabad shift the body of one of the three female media workers shot to death in two separate attacks. [Noorullah Shirzada/AFP]

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ISIS claimed responsibility for killing three women employed by Enikass TV in Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, on March 2. [Enikass TV/Facebook]

The women were aged between 20 and 26 years, according to relatives.

At about 4pm, attackers shot Sadat and Raofi while they were walking home from the station together, according to news reports. A few minutes later, gunmen in a different part of the city shot Wahidi.

One armed suspect was arrested and police are investigating the killings, Nangarhar police chief Jumagul Hemat said.

At least one passerby, an elderly woman, was wounded, said Nangarhar provincial Governor Ziaulhaq Amarkhail.

Enikass is an independent, privately owned media outlet that broadcasts news and entertainment programmes. The station often receives threats from extremist groups who take issue with its news coverage as well as the TV shows and films it broadcasts, Latifi told CPJ.

The women dubbed foreign entertainment TV programmes and films into local languages, he said.

The killers dragged one woman out of her vehicle before shooting her, Latifi told Voice of America.

The station called it a "sad day" and noted that it has "been targeted many times, but this is the second time we lost our dear colleagues".

Enikass reporter Malalai Maiwand and her driver were shot and killed in December. ISIS-K also claimed responsibility for that killing.

'Innocent girls shot dead'

Friends and family gathered at the women's funerals Wednesday in Jalalabad, where men took turns digging fresh graves with a shovel as others pleaded for an end to the deaths.

Rohan Sadat described his sister Sadia Sadat as "shy but active". She was passionate about fighting for women's rights and had planned to attend university and study law.

"We have buried her with all her hopes here," he told AFP.

The station was reeling from the murders and the three victims were like "family", said another colleague at Enikass TV who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"Three innocent girls were shot dead in the daylight in the middle of the city. Nobody is safe anymore," said the colleague.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned the slayings, saying, "Attacks on innocent compatriots, especially women, are contrary to the teachings of Islam, Afghan culture and the spirit of peace."

"These attacks are meant to intimidate; they are intended to make reporters cower; the culprits hope to stifle freedom of speech in a nation where the media has flourished during the past 20 years," the US Embassy in Kabul tweeted on Tuesday. "This cannot be tolerated."

"The perpetrators must be held accountable," it said.

A war for power, not Islam

Anger simmered online with social media users lashing out over the latest killings.

"It seems this war is not for Islam; it is just for power through spreading fear and terrorism," wrote Ghani Khan.

"These girls were working to help their families. They were not [at] war with the Taliban. They were poor; they just worked to feed their family," said Rauf Afghan.

Afghanistan long has been ranked as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.

Targeted killings of journalists, activists and judges have escalated since peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban began last September.

At least nine media workers have been killed in the past five months, according to the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee.

US officials blame the Taliban for the wave of violence, while the Afghan government say the insurgents routinely hide behind ISIS claims to cover their tracks.

The Taliban have denied the charges.

The assassinations have been acutely felt by women, whose rights the Taliban crushed during their five-year rule. Taliban policies included prohibiting women's employment.

Intelligence officials have previously linked the renewed threat to female professionals to demands at the peace talks for protection of their rights.

Many of the targeted killings apparently take months of careful planning -- to catch officials off guard -- and are increasingly more sophisticated than the formerly favoured suicide bomb used by insurgents.

The killings come as US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad returned to Kabul this week for meetings with Afghan leaders, in a bid to revive the flagging peace process.

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But, but and hundred times but, the education that our brothers and sisters have got during these 15 or 18 years is not as valuable as a turnip. When you put the charcoal inside the fire pan and some of gel is also added to the charcoal, then ignite it and it starts combusting and then you start blowing in order to make the charcoal burn, but if you stop blowing, there is no doubt that the fire will be put out or extinguished. This bloodthirsty war has destroyed the roots of knowledge and science. The knowledge that has been gained during these 15 years is being stopped from day to day. They Destroyed the infrastructure of education. May God destroy your roots. The media that you destroy is the teacher of humanity. May God destroy your home.

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Again, there is war, blood, terror and thousands of disasters and misfortunes. In the survey part of this website was written, “Did Taliban implement the Doha agreement or not?” I ticked the section “I don't know what the Doha agreement is.” Do any of you know what the Doha Agreement is? Has all of the content of the Doha Agreement been made accessible to the public? If it is written in Doha agreement that attacks on Afghans, either military or civilian, are prohibited, then certainly Taliban did not implement it and broke their promise. If it is written in that Afghans should be killed and Americans should not be killed, then they indeed implemented the agreement. Taliban also know that they have sustained and are sustaining casualties. In every farmland that the tractor plows the furrow, it must find a couple of dead bodies that are buried at a depth of 50 cm. Why? Because a number of idiots who had no knowledge of Islam carried out jihad and were killed in the battlefield and there is no one to take the body and submit it to the family, so they dug a hole and put it in the same place, without ablution and prayer.

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The killing of journalists, correspondents and members of media is a great betrayal committed against the oppressed people of Afghanistan, because correspondents and journalists play a very vital role in informing and giving awareness to the people. The government must identify and punish the circle which exists behind the assassinations of the journalists. Nangarhar has better security than other provinces and Taliban do not have a widespread presence in the province, but the target killings have made the people of this province concerned. Officials of Nangarhar province must ensure the security of Jalalabad City as soon as possible, and if they cannot, it would be better for them to resign and allow professional and committed individuals to be appointed in their places so that they prevent targeted assassinations.

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