Three female media workers were shot dead in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Tuesday, government officials said, amid a wave of killings that is spreading fear among professional workers in urban centres.
Local broadcaster Enikaas TV said the three women were its employees. Government sources said the women were killed on their way home from work and witnesses said gunmen shot the women in the head before fleeing.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the shooting. The insurgent Taliban denied involvement.
A wave of shootings and small bombs attached to vehicles in have targeted journalists, civil society workers and mid-level government employees in recent months.
The Afghan government and some foreign powers have blamed the attacks largely on the Taliban, which denies responsibility. The Islamic State group also has a presence in the eastern Afghan province of Nangahar, of which Jalalabad is the capital.
“The targeted killing of journalists could cause a state of fear in the journalistic community, and this could lead to self-censorship, abandonment of media activities, and even leaving the country,” said Mujib Khalwatgar, head of Afghan media advocacy group Nai.
He added that female journalists in Nangahar might have to avoid going to work in the aftermath of the shooting, as many did after the killing of a female journalist from the same broadcaster late last year.
Shaharzad Akbar, head of Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission called the attack “horrific”.
“Afghan women have been targeted and killed too often…. This must stop. Stop killing civilians and destroying (Afghanistan’s) future,” she said on Twitter.