President Joe Biden announces a September 11 deadline for withdrawal of US troops on Wednesday.
Nemat Rawan, a former Afghan television journalist, was shot dead in southern Kandahar city on Thursday, officials said, becoming the fifth journalist to have been killed this year.
Rawan hosted a popular talk show on the country’s leading broadcaster, Tolo News, before joining the ministry of finance as a communications specialist last month.
He was “assassinated by unknown gunmen”, Kandahar city police spokesman Jamal Nasir Barekzai told AFP news agency.
“Heartbreaking to hear that a friend and former colleague Nemat Rawan was shot dead in Kandahar city today,” Lotfullah Najafizada, head of Tolo News, posted on Twitter.
There was no claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Taliban have been blamed for a wave of assassinations targeting journalists in recent months.
On Wednesday, a Taliban spokesman warned that media workers who carry out “biased reporting” would be “held responsible”.
Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the country’s peace council, on Thursday condemned the Taliban’s threat against the media and “any attempts to silence Afghan journalists”.
Members of Afghanistan’s educated class – including journalists, activists and judges – have for months been the target of bombings and shootings, forcing many to go into hiding or leave the country.
The killings have escalated since peace talks began last year between the Afghan government and the Taliban, sparking fears that rebels are eliminating perceived opponents as negotiations stall.
At least 11 Afghan journalists were killed in 2020, with four more reportedly murdered this year, according to a recent toll from Amnesty International.
In early March, three female media workers were gunned down in the eastern city of Jalalabad.
Around 1,000 Afghan media workers have left their jobs in the past six months, an Afghan journalists’ safety committee said recently.
Afghanistan has long been ranked as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.