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Prominent Afghan Women's Rights Activist Assassinated


Freshta Kohistani

Prominent Afghan women’s rights activist Freshta Kohistani has been assassinated in a village in the Kapisa Province northeast of Kabul, Afghanistan's Interior Ministry said on December 24.

The killing of Kohistani was the latest in a string of targeted killings that have prompted international concern.

“At around 5:00pm today, unidentified gunmen riding on a motorcycle martyred Freshta Kohistani in the Hes-e-Awal area of the Kohistan district of Kapisa. Her brother was wounded in the attack, [and] the intelligence units have launched an investigation into the attack,” Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the ministry, said in a statement.

Police in Kapisa said that Kohistani's brother was also killed in the attack.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for multiple attacks in Kabul in recent months, including on educational institutions that killed 50 people, most of them students.

Kohistani's killing comes a day after Yusuf Rasheed, the head of an Afghan independent election-monitoring group, was slain in Kabul.

On December 21, Rahmatullah Nikzad, a freelance reporter and head of a media-safety union in the central Ghazni Province, was killed in an attack by unknown armed men in the province.

The attack occurred near his home, according to local officials.

Amnesty International South Asia in a tweet said that the assassination of Nikzad "is a horrific crime."

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 to put an end to decades of war.

Former TOLOnews presenter Yama Siawash, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reporter Elyas Daee, Enekaas TV's presenter in Nangarhar Malala Maiwand, and Ariana News presenter Fardin Amini have all been killed in separate incidents since November 7.

The United Nations' mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has voiced alarm over the "deeply disturbing" numbers of targeted killings in the war-torn country.

In a tweet on December 23, UNAMA reiterated its call for “a sustained reduction in violence” in Afghanistan , where it said “targeted killings of civilians are taking place at a deeply disturbing rate."

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