Afghan women’s rights activist shot dead

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KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – Gunmen on motorcycles on Thursday gunned down a women’s rights activist and her brother north of the Afghan capital, officials said, as a wave of assassinations ravage the violence-ravaged country.
Freshta Kohistani, 29, was the second activist to be killed in two days after a prominent democracy activist was gunned down in Kabul on Wednesday.

Their killings follow a similar pattern seen in recent weeks, in which prominent Afghans have died in targeted assassinations in broad daylight, including several in the capital.

“Unknown men armed on motorcycles murdered Freshta Kohistani in Kohistan district, Kapisa province,” Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian told reporters.

The governor of Kapisa province, Abdul Latif Murad, told AFP that the shooting took place near Kohistani’s home and that his brother was also killed in the attack.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

Kohistani, who campaigned for veteran leader Abdullah Abdullah in last year’s presidential election, enjoyed a relatively large audience on social media and regularly organized civil society events in Kabul to demand the womens rights.

Abdullah said Kohistani was killed in a “terrorist attack”.

In a Facebook post, he described Kohistani as a “courageous and fearless” activist who was at the forefront of civil and social life in Afghanistan.

“The continuation of these assassinations is unacceptable,” said Abdullah, who heads the country’s comprehensive peace process.

Days before her death, Kohistani, who is survived by her husband and a child, wrote on Facebook that she had requested the protection of the authorities after receiving threats.

She also condemned the continuing wave of assassinations of journalists and other prominent figures.

“Afghanistan is not a place to live. There is no hope of 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 sparked fear across the country, especially in Kabul.

“The security situation is deteriorating day by day,” said Ahmad Jawed, a government employee in Kabul.

“When we leave our homes in the morning, we are not sure we will return home alive at night. ”

Journalists, politicians and human rights activists are increasingly targeted as violence escalates in Afghanistan, despite peace talks between the government and the Taliban.

Mohammad Yousuf Rasheed, who headed an independent election observation organization, was ambushed and shot dead in morning rush hour traffic in Kabul with his driver on Wednesday.

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 dead this week 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 past two months, and the seventh media worker this year, according to the Kabul-based Afghan Journalists Safety Committee.

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