A Taliban fighter has been arrested for shooting dead a Hazara woman at a checkpoint in the Afghan capital as she returned from a wedding, a spokesman for the group says.
The killing of Zainab Abdullahi, 25, has horrified women, who face increasing restrictions since the Taliban returned to power in August.
The shooting took place in a Kabul neighbourhood inhabited mostly by members of the minority Shia Hazara community, which has been the target of deadly attacks by sectarian armed groups such as ISIL (ISIS).
Abdullahi was “killed by mistake”, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said on Twitter, adding that the arrested fighter will be punished.
Her family has been offered 600,000 Afghani (about $5,700) for the January 13 shooting in the capital’s Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood, the interior ministry said separately.
Some women’s rights activists have staged protests in Kabul since Abdullahi’s killing, demanding justice.
“When we heard of Zainab’s murder we got afraid. We are scared that if we leave our homes we might not return alive,” said a women’s rights activist who asked not to be named for her own safety.
“At nights we can not go out and even during the days we don’t go out unless there is something urgent,” she said, adding that passing through checkpoints was risky for women.
Zainab was another Hazara victim that was shot dead blindly by Taliban in Barchi west of Kabul.This shows there is no value for woman+ Hazara in 🇦🇫 and Taliban is responsible & they should protect the people whom are suffering from poverty and lack of freedom and basic rights. pic.twitter.com/8OCCvF1SGe
— M.A. Foladi (@mafoladi) January 15, 2022
The Taliban are increasingly imposing restrictions on women, who are being squeezed out of public life.
Most secondary schools for girls are shut, while women are barred from all but essential government work.
They have also been ordered not to travel long distances unless accompanied by a close male relative.
Earlier this month, the Taliban’s religious police put up posters around the capital ordering women to cover up.
A spokesman for the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice said it was “just encouragement for Muslim women to follow Sharia law”.
On Tuesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, urged the Security Council to “hold to account” those guilty of abuses in Afghanistan.
She said denying women and girls their fundamental rights was “massively damaging” a country already facing a humanitarian disaster of unprecedented proportions.
The Taliban has promised women more freedoms as opposed to their previous rule (1996-2001), under which girls’ education was banned and women were not allowed to work except for in a few sectors.
Earlier this week, the Taliban said all girls will return to school by March 21, offering the first deadline for the opening of high schools for girls.