U.S. Concerned over Surge in Targeted Killings in Afghanistan

Afghanistan, beside widespread bloody attacks across the country, has been recently witnessing a surge in attacks and assassinations which mostly target Afghan journalists, civil society as well as human rights activists and other well-known figures and are often left unclaimed.

The Killid Group
25 Dec 2020
U.S. Concerned over Surge in Targeted Killings in Afghanistan
Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan is seen before talks between the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents in Doha, Qatar September 12, 2020. REUTERS/Ibraheem al Omari

These attacks have sparked widespread concern, particularly of the United States.

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, said in a tweet that Afghans “demand peace” while warning that these targeted attacks and assassinations “threaten the peace process” and “must stop”.

Targeted killings have shaken Afghanistan. The assassination of Freshta Kohistani was the recent of these attacks. Kohistani was an activist in women’s rights as well as in the civil society who, along with her brother, was shot and killed in armed attack in their hometown Thursday evening.

Days before her death, Kohistani wrote on her Facebook page that she was receiving threats and had asked all security authorities, including officials in the Ministry of Interior, for her protection, but no one took a step to save her life.

The Afghan Ministry of Interior could not be reached for comment despite multiple attempts to ask its officials about preventative measures to be taken against targeted assassinations and particularly about the murder of Freshta Kohistani.

Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and a number of analysts have also voiced concern over insecurities which have recently swept the country, saying the current state of unrest has cast shadow over people’s hopes for peace.

Mohammad Naeem Nazari, Deputy Chairperson of the AIHRC, said targeting journalists, civil society activists and other known figures is a matter of deep concern.

It is government’s responsibility to afford protection for its citizens, according to Mr. Nazari, and it should carry it out.

“We demand the government to ensure security,” said AIHRC’s Deputy Chairman, adding, “we urge for investigations into these incidents and holding the perpetrators to account.”

“I call on all parties to refrain carrying out such attacks,” Mr. Nazari added.

Mohammad Sadiq Shinwari, Afghan analyst, has meanwhile said on one hand peace efforts have been underway, but on the other hand, violence and targeted assassinations have soared—which all have shattered the war-torn nation’s hopes for the peace.

“Afghans are hopeless; [they are stuck between hope and hopelessness]—whether it comes or not,” he said.

The country, already gripped by decades-long war and violence, has seen a surge in targeted killings and attacks on journalists, representatives from the civil society, peace and democracy advocates as well as on figures from all rights spectrum.

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