The three female employees of Enikaas TV and radio who were killed by unidentified gunmen in Jalalabad on Tuesday, were buried on Wednesday, relatives confirmed.
Mursal Waheedi, Saadia Sadat and Shahnaz Raufi were the three victims killed in two separate but nearly simultaneous gunmen attacks in Jalalabad city’s PD1 and PD4, according to officials.
The first incident took place about 4pm local time in Jalalabad city’s PD1 as Waheedi and Raufi were on their way home, Zalmay Latifi, the head of the TV and radio network said on Tuesday.
The second incident happened a few minutes later when a gunman attacked Sadat in PD4 of Jalalabad city, Latifi said.
The employees had two to four years’ experience with Enikaas TV and were aged 20 to 26, 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.”
Relatives and residents of Jalalabad called the attack against girls “cowardly” and accused the intelligence agency of negligence for "not preventing such attacks.”
“Such people have been killed many times and the intelligence department is not doing its job properly,” said Roshan, brother of Raufi on Wednesday.
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.
“Devastating news out of Jalalabad this evening. As Afghan journalists across the country face threats, three female media workers have been gunned down,” the US embassy said on Tuesday night.
“We must end impunity with open and transparent investigations into these vicious murders,” it said, adding: “We call on the government to defend press freedom and protect journalists. The perpetrators must be held accountable and stop their terrorism against Afghan civilians.”
Amnesty International condemned the killing and said “these appalling attacks should be stopped immediately. The government should investigate these killings and bring perpetrators to justice."
UNAMA also said: "Another dreadful day for media in Afghanistan. UNAMA grieves with the families of the female media professionals killed today in Jalalabad.”
“UN calls for prompt, transparent and independent investigations into these brutal killings. Time to protect journalists!” it said.
On February 15, the UN mission in Afghanistan in a report said that at least 11 human rights defenders and media workers were killed in targeted attacks in Afghanistan from September 12, 2020--when the peace negotiations started in Doha--through January 2021.
The report said the human rights and media space has 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 January 1, 2018, to January 31, 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 October 1, 2020, to January 31, 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.