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Afghan Journalist Shot Dead Outside His Home In Ghazni Province

Afghan security officials stand guard at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Ghazni city. (file photo)

An Afghan journalist was shot dead by unknown assailants in Afghanistan's central province of Ghazni on December 21, raising to four the number of journalists killed in the country within two months.

Rahmatullah Nekzad, who was also head of the journalists' union in the province, was killed in an attack by armed men, police said, according to Afghan television broadcaster TOLO News.

Local police and an official from Afghanistan's Interior Ministry say the journalist was gunned down in the evening as he left his home in Ghazni city and was headed toward a mosque.

Although large parts of Ghazni Province are under Taliban control, the militant Islamist group denied involvement in the killing.

In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said: "We consider this killing a loss for the country."

Nekzad contributed to The Associated Press since 2007. He had previously worked for the Al-Jazeera satellite TV channel, which said it was shocked by the killing, calling it "a gross violation of media freedom and human rights."

Islamic State militants, blamed for a series of attacks on a range of targets in Afghanistan in recent months, claimed responsibility for an attack on one Afghan journalist earlier in December.

Malala Maiwand, an anchor for Enikas TV, was shot dead alongside her driver on her way to an early morning work shift in the provincial capital, Jalalabad, on December 10.

A month earlier RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Mohammad Aliyas Dayee was killed by a bomb planted on his car in Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand Province.

Dayee's brother, Mojtaba Mohammadi, who works for the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, also was injured in the attack.

The attack followed a similar bombing in Kabul on November 7 that killed a former popular TV news presenter for TOLO News and two other civilians. A bomb attached to the vehicle of Yama Siawash exploded, killing Siawash and two senior employees of Afghanistan’s Central Bank.

Attacks on journalists, politicians, and rights activists have increased in Afghanistan despite ongoing peace talks between the government and the Taliban.

The international media rights group Reporters Without Borders says Afghanistan is one of the world's deadliest countries for journalists.

Based on reporting by Reuters, TOLO News, and RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan
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