Afghan women’s rights activist, brother shot dead

Gunmen on motorbike kill 29-year-old Freshta Kohistani and her brother in Kohistan district of Kapisa province.

Kohistan district, Kapisa province, Afghanistan map

Gunmen on a motorbike have shot dead a women’s rights activist and her brother north of Afghanistan’s capital, officials said, as a wave of assassinations ravages the violence-wracked country.

“Unknown gunmen on motorbike assassinated Freshta Kohistani in Kohistan district of Kapisa province,” interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian told reporters on Thursday.

Kapisa provincial governor, Abdul Latif Murad, told AFP news agency the shooting took place near Kohistani’s home and that her brother was also killed in the attack.

Kohistani, 29, is the second activist to be killed in two days after a prominent pro-democracy advocate was gunned down in capital Kabul on Wednesday.

No group has claimed the attack so far.

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

‘Tomorrow it could be your turn’

Kohistani who has 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 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, 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 told AFP news agency.

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

Journalists, politicians and rights activists have increasingly been targeted as violence surges 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 in a car bomb blast.

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.

Source: AFP