KABUL, Afghanistan – Three paramedics, all women working for the government’s polio vaccination campaign, were shot dead in the Ala al-Abad district of eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, local officials said, just weeks after killing three women working on television.
All the 20-year-old women were going to work in a lively town near the border with Pakistan when they were killed in two separate attacks.
Semin, 24, and Basira, 20, who, like many Afghans, both had only one name, were shot and killed by two gunmen as they entered a house in Ala Alabad to vaccinate children.
Both went door-to-door in the city, which the Taliban had previously banned in areas under their control.
It was Semin’s first vaccination campaign. said Ahmad Faisal Nizami, the victim’s cousin. He was recently married and graduated from a teacher training college.
Negina, 24, the leader of a polio vaccination campaign launched in Afghanistan on Monday, was shot dead and killed about an hour later in another part of the city.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the killings.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied any involvement in the WhatsApp message.
According to the Worldwide Polio Initiative, Afghanistan, which recorded 56 cases of polio in 2020, is one of only two countries where the disease has not been eradicated, lagging behind Pakistan.
The bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a police recruiting center at a regional hospital in the city, officials said. There were no holes, but the windows were broken.
The latest killings, part of a wave of targeted killings often sparked by women, journalists, professionals, activists and doctors, came at a time when the Taliban were gaining steady military gains, relentlessly attacking what is considered to be an Afghan-affiliated government. In addition, the remnants of the Islamic State in the region have focused on carrying out smaller-scale bombings – smaller but targeted attacks.
At the same time, the United States has not yet said definitively whether it will meet the May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of all American forces, according to the 2020 agreement signed by the Trump administration with the Taliban. In February.
“My niece, Basira, was a poor girl,” said Haji Mokbel Ahmad, an elder from the Alalabad tribe, who added that the woman had not been threatened before. “He was shot and killed while he was doing his job.”
Officially commissioned Basira has been involved in a five-day vaccine campaign since she was a teenager, for which less than $ 30 will be paid, officials say.
The month began with the killing of three women working for women television in Alalabad. A female TV and radio presenter from the same station was shot in the same way in December. Islamic State claimed responsibility for both incidents.
The New York Times reports that at least 136 civilians – 168 members of the security forces – died as a result of such targeted killings in 2020, more than in almost any other year of the war. So far, 2021 has not stopped the same kind of violence.
The Taliban are stepping up pressure on the government and the public, claiming that sovereignty is under way as stalled, intermittent talks to resolve the Afghan conflict.
Ala Alabad was one of the worst affected cities. A day after the TV worker was killed, a female doctor was killed by a roadside bomb.
In Kabul, US Chargé d’Affaires Ross Wilson condemned Tuesday’s killings.
“Such attacks directly disregard the dream of Afghans to build a better life for their children,” Wilson said. wrote on Twitter“I extend my deepest condolences to the families of the victims as we call for justice,” he wrote. “An attack on vaccines is as heartless as it is inexplicable.”
Ab abihullah zi azi contributed reporting from alabaster և Fahim Abed invested from Kabul, Afghanistan.