Three women who worked for a local radio and TV station in eastern Afghanistan have been shot dead in separate attacks, the news editor of the station said.
Shokrullah Pasoon, of Enikass Radio and TV in Jalalabad, said one of the women, Mursal Wahidi, was walking home when gunmen opened fire, according to witnesses.
The other two, identified only as Shahnaz and Sadia, were shot in a separate incident, also walking home from work. Two other people, apparently passers-by, were wounded in the attack.
Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for media workers, with 15 killed in the last six months.
The three women dubbed popular and often emotion-laden dramas from Turkey and India into Afghanistan’s local languages of Dari and Pashtu, said Pasoon.
No one claimed the latest killings, but in December an affiliate of the so-called Islamic State group, headquartered in eastern Afghanistan, claimed the killing of another female Enikass employee, Malala Maiwand.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied any involvement in the killings. In a statement, President Ashraf Ghani condemned the murders, saying “attacks on innocent compatriots, especially women, are contrary to the teachings of Islam, Afghan culture and the spirit of peace”.
The killings are part of a larger spike in targeted killings in Afghanistan in the past year coinciding with the signing of a peace deal between the US and the Taliban in February 2020.
The Taliban have denied involvement in most of the targeted killings. The Taliban and the government blame each other for staging the attacks to discredit the peace deal or win greater concessions.
The Biden administration is reviewing the deal which calls for the withdrawal of US and Nato troops by May 1. Officials say no decision has been made.
Enikass Radio and TV is a privately owned outlet that broadcasts “news, various political, social, Islamic, educational, satirical and engaging programmes and standard dubbing of serials and movies for the people of Afghanistan”, according to its website.
The Afghan Journalists Safety Committee issued a statement condemning the killings and criticising government investigations of previous killings of journalists, saying they were “not satisfactory at all, something that needs to be changed”.
The Vienna-headquartered International Press Institute called the killings an “unspeakable act”.
In a statement, deputy director Scott Griffen called on the Afghan government to find and apprehend the culprits, adding: “The only way to stop the spread of violence against journalists is to break the cycle of impunity, ensuring that no one who attacks or kills a journalist or media worker can get away with it.”