Gunmen on a motorbike shot dead a women’s rights activist and her brother north of Afghanistan’s capital on Thursday, officials said, as a wave of assassinations ravaged the violence-wracked country.
Freshta Kohistani, aged 29, was the second activist to be killed in two days after a prominent pro-democracy advocate was gunned down in Kabul on Wednesday.
Their murders follow a similar pattern seen in recent weeks, in which prominent Afghans had died in targeted killings in broad daylight, several of them in the capital.
‘Unknown gunmen on a motorbike assassinated Freshta Kohistani in Kohistan district of Kapisa province,’ interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian told reporters.
Kapisa provincial governor Abdul Latif Murad told AFP that the shooting had taken place near Kohistani’s home and that her brother was also killed in the attack.
No group had claimed the attack so far.
Kohistani, who had campaigned for veteran leader Abdullah Abdullah during last year’s presidential election, had enjoyed a relatively large following on social media, and regularly organised civil society events in Kabul calling for women’s rights.
Abdullah said that Kohistani was killed in a ‘terrorist attack’.
In a Facebook post, he described Kohistani as a ‘brave and fearless’ activist who was at the forefront of civil and social life in Afghanistan.
‘The continuation of such assassinations is unacceptable,’ said Abdullah, who leads the country’s overall peace process.
Days before her death, Kohistani, who is survived by her husband and one child, wrote on Facebook that she had asked for protection from the authorities after receiving threats.
She had also condemned the ongoing wave of assassinations of journalists and other prominent figures.
‘Afghanistan is not a place to live in. There is no hope for peace. Tell the tailor to take your measurement for a funeral shroud, tomorrow it could be your turn,’ she tweeted in November.
The wave of assassinations have triggered fear across the country, especially in Kabul.
‘The security situation is deteriorating day by day,’ said Ahmad Jawed, a government employee in Kabul, adding, ‘When we leave our homes in the morning, we are not sure we will return home alive by evening.’
Journalists, politicians, and rights activists had increasingly been targeted as violence surged in Afghanistan, despite peace talks between the government and the Taliban.
On Wednesday, Mohammad Yousuf Rasheed, who led an independent election monitoring organisation, was ambushed and shot in morning rush-hour traffic in Kabul along with his driver.
His murder came a day after five people — including two doctors working for a prison on the outskirts of Kabul — were killed by a car bomb.
A prominent Afghan journalist was also shot this week while on his way to a mosque in the eastern city of Ghazni.
Rahmatullah Nekzad was the fourth journalist to be killed in Afghanistan in the last two months, and the seventh media worker this year, according to the Kabul-based Afghan Journalists Safety Committee.
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