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UN Expresses Alarm After Head Of Afghan Election-Monitoring Group Killed


Yusuf Rasheed was the head of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan.

KABUL -- The United Nations' mission in Afghanistan is alarmed over the "deeply disturbing" numbers of targeted killings in the war-torn country after the head of an Afghan independent election-monitoring group was slain in Kabul.

Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz told RFE/RL that the car carrying Yusuf Rasheed was fired on by unknown gunmen in the city's Police District 7 on the morning of December 23.

Rasheed and his driver passed away at the Kabul Emergency Hospital after sustaining serious injuries, according to their families and colleagues.

Rasheed was the chief executive of the Kabul-based Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA).

A prominent civil society activist, he was on his way to participate in the inauguration of a peace advocacy group in Kabul when the attack occurred.

No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed told RFE/RL that the militant group was not involved.

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 war.

Reacting to the attack, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (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."

"In the last four days alone, Afghanistan has seen the killing of an MP, a well known journalist, a group of medics and head of a leading election watchdog. Such dreadful attacks are rarely claimed and frequently focus on those working for an open society," the mission tweeted.

Ross Wilson, the United States' most senior diplomat in Kabul, condemned the "murder" of Rasheed in a tweet, calling it "another in a cacophony of senseless & endless violence."

Wilson described Rasheed as "a dedicated & steadfast advocate for representative democracy in Afghanistan" who had "worked tirelessly for years to ensure free & transparent elections that engaged all Afghans."

Rasheed's assassination comes two days after an Afghan journalist was shot dead by unknown assailants in the eastern city of Ghazni.

Rahmatullah Nekzad, who was also head of the journalists' union in Ghazni Province, was the third journalist to be killed in the country in six weeks.

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