KABUL: Gunmen murdered an Afghan journalist on Monday in the eastern city of Ghazni, the third blogger to be killed in a world afflicted by extremism in the last two months.
According to Ghazni province police spokesman Ahmad Khan Seerat, Rahmatullah Nekzad was shot dead with a silent pistol by unidentified gunmen near his home while he was travelling to a nearby mosque.
Despite continuing peace talks between the government and the Taliban, targeted killings of public personalities, including journalists, lawmakers and rights activists, have become more frequent in recent months as violence surges in Afghanistan.
So far, no party has claimed the murder of Nekzad, and the Taliban has denied responsibility.
According to the Afghan Journalists Protection Committee, Nekzad, aged in his late 40s, had written to the news agency Associated Press since 2007 and had worked for the Al Jazeera television network.
“The AJSC strongly condemns the serial killing of Afghan journalists,” the committee said on Twitter, commenting on attacks against media staff in the region.
It said seven media workers have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year, a country ranked by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders as one of the deadliest for journalists.
Nekzad was married and six children survived. His murder attracted heavy criticism.
The ‘terrorism attack’ that killed Nekzad was condemned by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Ghani said in a statement, “The attack on civilians, public facilities and media workers is an attack on freedom of expression and a crime against humanity.”
Amnesty International, the global rights organisation, said on Twitter that the assassination was a “horrific crime” and called on the suspects to be taken to justice.
The death of Nekzad follows the murder earlier this month of female news anchor and activist Malalai Maiwand, who was shot dead in Jalalabad with her driver in an attack alleged by the Islamic State militant group.
In a car bomb attack in southern Lashkar Gah city last month, Radio Liberty reporter Aliyas Dayee was killed. So far, no party has reported his death.