An Afghan journalist was shot and killed on January 1 by unidentified gunmen in western Afghanistan, the deputy governor of Ghor Province said.
The journalist, Bismillah Adel Aimaq, was killed in an area called Pushta Ghazak, and a police investigation is under way, Deputy Governor Azizullah Radmanish said, according to RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan.
He is the fifth journalist slain in Afghanistan in the past two months.
Aimaq was managing director of Ghor Ghag Radio and a civil society activist in his province, Radmanish said. He recently wrote on Facebook that his house and car had been shot at and said he had reported the incident to security officials.
The shooting on January 1 occurred when gunmen opened fire on Aimaq’s vehicle while he was returning home to Feroz Koh, the provincial capital of Ghor, after visiting his family in a village nearby.
Other people in the car, including Aimaq's brother, were unharmed, according to the Associated Press, quoting the provincial governor's spokesman, Arif Abir.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the shooting.
The Afghan government has blamed the Taliban for similar killings. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid insisted the insurgents were not responsible for Aimaq's killing, according to the AP.
Attacks on journalists, politicians, and rights activists have increased in Afghanistan despite ongoing peace talks between the government and the Taliban.
Last week, Rahmatullah Nekzad, who headed the journalists’ union in Ghazni province, was shot dead by unknown assailants in an attack outside his home.
Although large parts of Ghazni Province are under Taliban control, the militant Islamist group also denied involvement in that killing.
In mid-December, the Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for the killing of another Afghan journalist, Enikas TV anchorwoman Malala Maiwand. Her driver was also killed when assailants opened fire as she left her house in the provincial capital, Jalalabad.
A month earlier, Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Mohammad Aliyas Dayee was killed by a bomb planted on his car in Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand Province.
The attack followed a similar bombing in Kabul on November 7 that killed a popular former TV news presenter for TOLOnews 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.
The international press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called Afghanistan one of the world’s deadliest countries for journalists.