Mursal Habibi, Saadia and Shahnaz, three female employees of Enikass TV, were killed by unidentified gunmen in two separate attacks in Nangarhar province on Tuesday, said Zalmay Latifi, the head of the TV and radio network.
The first incident took place about 4pm local time in Jalalabad city’s PD1 as Saadia and Shahnaz were on their way home, according to Latifi.
The second incident happened a few minutes later when a gunman attacked Mursal Habibi in PD4 of Jalalabad city, he said.
“Today was a bad day for Enikass TV,” Latifi said, "the three were our top dubbing employees, and were killed in two separate incidents.”
The employees had two to four years experience with Enikaas TV, according to relatives.
Latifi confirmed that the national intelligence agency had been “informed” of possible threats ahead of the attack on the employees of Enikass TV.
“We know that there are overall threats against all media workers,” he said. “We had put in place some security measures, but it’s hard for us.”
"A murderer of Mursal has been arrested and investigations into the incident are ongoing," said Juma Gul Hemat, the provincial police chief.
In the meantime, two other women who were passing by the area were also wounded in the shooting and were transferred to Jalalabad hospital, according to health officials.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack and the Taliban has denied any involvement.
On December 10, 2020, Malalai Maiwand, a journalist at the same TV station in Nangarhar, was killed with her driver in an attack by gunmen on their vehicle in Jalalabad.
Maiwand was also an activist in the province.
On February 15, the UN mission in Afghanistan in a report said that at least 11 human defenders and media workers were killed in targeted attacks in Afghanistan from 12 September 2020 when the peace negotiations started in Doha through to 31 January 2021.
The report said human rights and media space have contracted as a result, with many professionals exercising self-censorship in their work, quitting their jobs, and leaving their homes and communities with hopes it will improve their safety.
Many, including high profile personalities, have fled the country, the report says, adding that the killings have had the broader impact across society of also diminishing expectations around efforts towards peace.
The report records a total of 65 human rights defenders and media professionals killed in the period from 1 January 2018 to 31 January 2021, 32 from the human rights sector and 33 from the media. Of these, 11 (five human rights defenders and six media) were killed in the four-month period from 1 October 2020 to 31 January 2021 alone.
The report notes that as they work to provide timely information to the population of Afghanistan on a range of issues (including violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law), human rights defenders, journalists and media workers are far too often exposed to threats, intimidation, harassment, surveillance or arbitrary detention.
The report underlines that all actors have an important role to play in preventing such killings and intimidation, promoting accountability and preventing impunity.
Investigations into killings must be independent, impartial, prompt, thorough, effective, credible and transparent, the report said.
The report suggests that the prosecution of suspected perpetrators should strictly follow due process and fair trial standards.
It also says that the use of charged rhetoric against the role of civil society and the media, threats or actions taken against whistleblowers, and the circulation of “target lists” all contribute to perpetuating the conditions in which civic space can only shrink further and exacerbate the unsettling effect on the population, especially human rights defenders and media professionals.