A female doctor was killed in a bomb blast in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad and at least seven civilians were shot and killed by a group of gunmen overnight in the country’s east, provincial officials said on Thursday.
The doctor was killed after a magnetic bomb attached to the vehicle she was travelling in exploded, according to a spokesman from the governor’s office in the eastern Nangarhar province.
“She was commuting in a rickshaw when the bomb went off,” the spokesman told the AFP news agency.
The doctor was on her way to work at a provincial hospital’s maternity ward. A child was also injured by the explosion.
Another spokesman from the provincial hospital also confirmed the incident and the numbers of dead and injured people.
Juma Gul Hemat, the provincial police chief in Nangarhar, said the victims of the shooting incident were workers at a plaster factory in the Sorkh Rod district. Police arrested four suspects, he added.
The labourers were all from Afghanistan’s minority Shia Hazara community, according to Farid Khan, a spokesman for the provincial police chief. Some had come from the capital of Kabul, as well as central Bamyan and northern Balkh provinces, to work in the factory.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for that attack, but fighters from the ISIL (ISIS) group have declared war on the Shia and frequently single out the Hazaras.
The act of aggression came two days after three female media workers who worked at a private TV station were gunned down in Jalalabad in separate shooting incidents that were just minutes apart.
ISIL claimed responsibility for killing the three women – Mursal Wahidi, Sadia Sadat and Shahnaz Raufi. The three left work together and were gunned down in separate attacks while on their way home, almost at the same time.
But many other attacks have gone unclaimed. The government blames most on the resurgent Taliban, who today hold sway over nearly half the country.
The Taliban, in turn, deny any role in some of the instances and blame the government.
Meanwhile, in the western Herat province, 39 people, both military and civilians, were wounded when security forces launched an operation to arrest a local militia commander, sparking a firefight, the governor’s office said. The wounded, including three children, are being treated.
The militia commander was not arrested and remains on the run, said Wahid Qatali, the provincial governor in Herat.
Journalists, religious scholars, activists and judges have all been victims of a recent wave of political assassinations across Afghanistan, forcing many into hiding – with some fleeing the country.
The assassinations have been acutely felt by women, whose rights were crushed under the Taliban’s five-year rule, including being banned from working.
Intelligence officials have previously linked the renewed threat against female professionals to demands at the peace talks for their rights to be protected.
The attacks come as speculation is rife over the United States’s future in Afghanistan after President Joe Biden’s administration announced plans to review the agreement signed with the Taliban last year that paved the way for foreign troops to leave the country by May.