(Reuters) – The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an attack that killed three female media workers in eastern Afghanistan.
The militant group, which has a presence in Afghanistan, said its fighters had targeted the three female employees of a television station in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Tuesday evening, according to the SITE Intelligence group.
The women, who worked for local broadcaster Enikas TV, were aged between 18 and 20 and were shot on their way home from work, according to Afghan officials. Their burials took place on Wednesday after prayer ceremonies, according to a provincial council member.
A fourth women wounded in the attack was admitted to hospital in a critical condition, hospitals officials.
Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack, which local police initially blamed on the insurgent Taliban, who denied any involvement.
“Such attacks on our innocent compatriots, especially women, contradict the teachings of Islam, Afghan culture and the spirit of peace, and make the current crisis and war difficult and long,” said a statement from Ghani’s office.
Violence has risen around Afghanistan and media workers and civil society members in urban areas have been targeted in recent months even as a peace process takes place in Qatar’s capital of Doha.
The Afghan government and the Taliban have been holding talks to try to reach a political settlement to end decades of conflict. But progress has slowed as the new Biden administration in Washington reviews its plans for the peace process, including whether to entirely withdraw troops by May as originally planned.
Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield in Islamabad, Ghaida Ghantous in Dubai, Hamid Shalizi, Abdul Qadir Sediqi and Orooj Hakmi in Kabul; Editing by Tom Hogue and Alex Richardson