Afghan officials say a female doctor died in a bomb blast in the eastern city of Jalalabad in what appeared to be another targeted killing in the war-torn country.
Elsewhere in Nangarhar Province, officials said on March 4 that seven civilians from Afghanistan's mainly Shi’ite Hazara minority were shot and killed by a group of gunmen overnight.
General Juma Gul Hemat, provincial police chief, said the victims were workers at a plaster factory in Sorkh Rod district. Police arrested four suspects, he added.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but militants from the Islamic State (IS) extremist group and the Taliban have frequently targeted the Hazaras in recent years.
The doctor was killed after a magnetic bomb was attached to the rickshaw she was traveling in, according to a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar Province in which Jalalabad is the main city. A child was also wounded.
The spokesman, Attahullah Khogyani, said the doctor worked in the maternity ward of a private hospital.
The incident and toll was confirmed by a spokesman from a provincial hospital.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which comes two days after three women media workers were gunned down in Jalalabad in an attack claimed by the local affiliate of the IS group.
And on March 3, a Kabul University professor and religious scholar was shot dead in the Afghan capital. No one claimed responsibility for that attack.
There has been a rising wave of killings targeting journalists, civil society activists, and officials across Afghanistan in recent months amid ongoing peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban negotiators in Qatar.
Most of the assassinations have gone unclaimed. The Taliban has denied involvement in many cases, but Afghan and U.S. officials have blamed the militants.
Rights groups say the killings are intended to silence and intimidate independent voices and civil society in Afghanistan, which has made inroads on women’s rights and free speech since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that toppled the fundamentalist Taliban regime.
The latest attacks come as U.S. President Joe Biden's administration is currently reviewing the peace agreement signed with the Taliban in Qatar last year.
The Doha deal called for all international forces to gradually leave Afghanistan by May 1, 2021. In return, the Taliban committed to renounce violence and enter into peace talks with representatives from the Afghan government.
The intra-Afghan talks started in September, but there has been no tangible progress yet, with the sides accusing each other of violating the provisions of the U.S.-Taliban accord.
A White House document outlining Biden's national-security policies, made public on March 3, says the United States “should not, and will not, engage in ‘forever wars’ that have cost thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.”
The administration “will work to responsibly end America’s longest war in Afghanistan while ensuring that Afghanistan does not again become a safe haven for terrorist attacks against the United States,” it adds.