The Taliban on Wednesday released a statement in which the group rejected any involvement in the spate of targeted killings that has taken the lives of many journalists and civil society activists in the country.
“It has been some time that some religious scholars, journalists and political figures have been deliberately killed in different parts of the country,” the group said in a statement.
“The Islamic Emirate has always denied and condemned such killings, calling it detrimental to the country,” the statement said.
“The Islamic Emirate calls on the world and our compatriots to know those elements and circles that do such things at this critical stage, in order to muddy the water and catch fish,” the statement said.
Despite the denial by the Taliban, senior Afghan government officials have always blamed the Taliban for the killings.
Afghanistan’s Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish, referring to the targeted killings in the country, earlier this week said that the enemies of Afghanistan are attacking the achievements of the nation.
“The enemy has targeted the (nation's) gains to create fear and chaos and disappointment, or to provoke the people against each other, to create distance between the people and the government, to score points in the peace process or to push the talks toward a stalemate,” said Danish at the National Human Rights Defenders Conference.
Danish said "the enemy" has attacked rule of law, human rights, freedom of speech, journalists, judges and human rights defenders.
Previously, Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh also blamed the Taliban for the targeted killings in the country.
On December 29, Interior Affairs Minister Massoud Andarabi, while speaking to the Afghan senate about the security situation in the country and particularly in Kabul, said that the Taliban is behind the “targeted killings.”
US Forces reaction
“The Taliban's campaign of unclaimed attacks and targeted killings of government officials, civil society leaders and journalists must also cease for peace to succeed,” said Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for US forces Afghanistan.
A report indicates that four anchors, three reporters and a cameraman have lost their lives in terrorist incidents in different parts of the country in 2020. This number was similar to 2019 but the level of threats to journalists and media workers has been unprecedentedly high in recent months and continues unabated.
The Afghanistan Journalists Center, in a report published Saturday, says in 2020 Daesh was responsible for killing two anchors, the Taliban was responsible for killing one reporter and a cameraman, and unknown armed men were responsible for killing two anchors.
According to the report, the perpetrators of some of the attacks have not been identified so far.
The report says that 112 incidents of violence against journalists happened in 2020 in the country. The report adds that 19 journalists and media workers were wounded last year.
Moreover, two more incidents, including the attack on former TOLOnews anchor Yama Siawash and the death of Ariana News anchor Fardin Amini in a mysterious incident, happened this past November.
Those who lost their lives in 2020 are:
Safar Mohammad Atal, an anchor of Samson Radio in Helmand;
Ahmad Khan Nawid, an anchor of Ghor Radio in Feroz Koh city;
Mir Wahid Shah Amiri, Khorshid TV reporter in Kabul;
Shafiq Zabih, a cameraman at Khorshid TV;
Elyas Daee, a Radio Azadi reporter in Helmand;
Malala Maiwand, Eekas TV anchor in Nangarhar;
Rahmatullah Nekzad, a freelance reporter in Ghazni; and Tahir Khan, a driver at Enekas TV in Nangarhar.
On the first day of 2021, a reporter, Bismillah Adil Aimaq, was killed in an attack by unknown armed men in Ghor. He was head of a local radio station in the province.
What the Afghans ask today is: Who is the real perpetrator who takes the lives of the nation’s elites?