A female journalist for a private Afghan television station and her driver have been slain by unidentified assailants in the eastern province of Nangarhar in the latest attack targeting media in the country.
Malala Maiwand, an anchor for Enikas TV, was shot dead alongside her driver on her way to work in the provincial capital, Jalalabad, early on the morning of December 10, the province's spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani, told RFE/RL.
Maiwand was said to have worked with the station for about eight years. She was also described as an activist who advocated for the rights of Afghan women and children.
Enikas TV head Zalmai Latifi blamed “enemies of the country” for the slaying and said the channel had been receiving death threats.
No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the second killing of a journalist in Afghanistan in a month.
Both the Taliban and the Islamic State group are active in the province bordering Pakistan.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied the group's involvement.
The Kabul-based Nai Supporting Open Media group said in a statement that with the killing of Maiwand, “the working field for female journalists is getting more smaller and the journalists may not dare to continue their jobs the way they were doing before.”
“HumanRightsDay2020 in #Afghanistan starts with news of another killing of a journalist. We strongly condemn these attacks on media representatives & civil society & civilians. They must stop!” the German Embassy in Kabul said in a tweet.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said that it is “particularly shocking that her life was taken on International Human Rights Day.”
Targeted killings of prominent figures, including journalists, clerics, politicians, and rights activists, have become more common in recent months amid rising violence and chaos across Afghanistan despite ongoing talks between government negotiators and the Taliban in Qatar to try put an end to decades of relentless war.
Maiwand’s killing comes just weeks after RFE/RL journalist Mohammad Ilyas Dayee died in the southern province of Helmand after a magnetic bomb attached to his vehicle exploded.
Dayee, 33, was killed on November 12 in what the Afghan government, the United Nations, and others condemned as an attack on press freedom in the war-torn country.
There has been no claim of responsibility for that attack.
But the Afghan Interior Ministry on December 10 announced the arrest of a "Taliban terrorist" suspected of direct involvement in Dayee's assassination.
Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said the suspect had confessed to the crime and that police are now trying to arrest more of his accomplices.
Dayee had told Human Rights Watch that he had received numerous death threats warning him to stop his reporting on Taliban military operations.
The attack followed a similar bombing in Kabul on November 7 that killed a former popular TV news presenter for Afghanistan's TOLO TV and two other civilians.