KABUL -- Unidentified gunmen have shot dead a Kabul University professor and religious scholar in the Afghan capital, a day after three female employees of a television channel were gunned down in the east of the war-torn country.
A Kabul police spokesman said the university lecturer, Faiz Mohammad Fayez, was on his way to a mosque for morning prayers when he was shot on March 3.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes two weeks after two lecturers at Kabul University were killed when a bomb attached to the vehicle they were traveling in went off. No one claimed responsibility for that attack, either.
On March 2, three female employees of the Afghan television channel Enikass TV were gunned down in the eastern city of Jalalabad in an attack claimed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.
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.
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.
Enikass TV said its three media workers killed in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar Province, were recent high-school graduates aged between 18 and 20.
Afghan officials said police arrested their alleged killer, insisting he was a Taliban militant -- a claim denied by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
Nangarhar police chief General Juma Gul Hemat said the suspect used a pistol with a silencer in the attacks.
“We are alarmed by the killing of Mursal Wahidi, Sadia Sadat, and Shahnaz Roafi, and the repeated attacks on Enikass Radio and TV, which must be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted,” said Aliya Iftikhar, senior Asia researcher at the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
Iftikhar said that working for a news outlet or broadcaster in Afghanistan “carries immense risk, and impunity will only further the cycle of violence and fear.”
In December, the IS group claimed responsibility for the killing in Jalalabad of a female TV presenter working for Enikass and her driver.