Outrage across the country at a funeral for the slaughtered young women on Tuesday in Jalalabad.
Outrage raged in Afghanistan on Wednesday at the funeral of three female media workers beaten down in the eastern city of Jalalabad, violence escalates as peace talks stagnate.
Journalists, activists and judges have recently been ambushed by gunmen or killed by explosives strapped to their vehicles, as rising violence forces many into hiding – some leaving Afghanistan.
The killings have escalated since the start of peace talks last year between the Afghan government and the Taliban, raising fears the group is eliminating perceived opponents as negotiations stall.
The three women were shot and killed in two separate attacks just 10 minutes apart after leaving Enikass TV channel on Tuesday in what a colleague described as an “orchestrated coup”.
An ISIS affiliate later claimed responsibility for the killings, claiming that his gunmen had carried them out against what he called “journalists working for one of the media channels loyal to the apostate Afghan government. “.
Friends and family gathered at the women’s funeral in Jalalabad, where the men took turns digging new graves with a shovel as others pleaded for an end to the dead.
Rohan Sadat described his sister Sadia Sadat as “shy but active” who was also passionate about fighting for women’s rights and planned to go to college and study law.
“We have buried her with all our hopes here,” Sadat told AFP news agency.
Another colleague of Enikass TV, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the station was reeling from the murders, saying the three victims were like “family”.
“Three innocent girls were shot dead in the light of day in the middle of the city. No one is safe anymore, ”the colleague said.
In December, another employee working for Enikass TV was murdered in Jalalabad under similar circumstances.
“Not for Islam”
Anger has simmered online as well, with social media users lashing out over the latest killings.
“It seems that this war is not for Islam, it is just for power by spreading fear and terrorism,” Ghani Khan wrote.
“These girls were working to help their families. They were not [at] war with the Taliban. They were poor, they were just working to feed their families, ”said Rauf Afghan.
Afghanistan has long been ranked among the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.
At least nine media professionals have been killed since the start of peace talks with the Taliban in September, according to the Committee for the Safety of Afghan Journalists.
U.S. officials blamed the Taliban for the wave of violence, while the government in Kabul said armed groups routinely hid behind ISIL claims to cover up their tracks.
The Taliban have denied the charges.
The killings were deeply felt by women, whose rights were violated during the five-year rule of the Taliban, including the ban on work.
Intelligence officials have previously linked the renewed threat against professional women to demands during peace talks for their rights to be protected.
Many of the targeted attacks are believed to require months of careful planning – to catch officials off guard – and are increasingly sophisticated than the once-favored suicide bombing used by armed groups.
The killings come as US special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad returned to Kabul this week for meetings with Afghan leaders, in a bid to revive a dwindling peace process as violence soars throughout the country and that the deadline for the withdrawal of US troops is approaching.
Donald Trump’s administration, eager to end America’s longest war, tasked Khalilzad with negotiating with the Taliban, resulting in an agreement signed in Qatar on February 29, 2020.
The deal stipulates that the United States will withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by May, with the Taliban promising not to allow the use of the territory by armed groups.
Speculation rages on the future of the United States in Afghanistan after the White House announced its intention to review the withdrawal agreement brokered by Khalilzad and the Taliban.