Kabul, Dec 23 (efe-epa).- The head of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA), was shot dead on Wednesday in Kabul in what is the latest in a series of targeted killings of politicians, activists, intellectuals and journalists.
The attack occurred in the morning in the Afghan capital, when a group of gunmen opened fire on the vehicle of Mohammad Yousuf Rasheed while he was on his way to work, the activist’s brother Abdul Baqi Rasheed told local broadcaster Tolo.
The FEFA chief and his driver were seriously injured in the shooting and were rushed to a hospital, where they later succumbed to their injuries, their families confirmed to Tolo.
No armed group has claimed the attack yet.
The death of Rasheed, under whom FEFA played an important role As independent election observer since the downfall of the Taliban regime in 2011, and the spiralling violence and targetted killings caused outrage in the war-torn country.
President Ashraf Ghani called the killing “a cowardly act of terror” and said Rasheed was “an eminent personality who made remarkable services for institutionalization of democratic values and transparency of electoral processes,” according to a statement from the presidential office.
Ghani also denounced “the escalation of violence and increased attacks on public facilities and institutions by terrorist groups,” which comes amid the ongoing peace talks between the insurgents and the government since September in the Qatari capital of Doha.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) also criticized the escalating violence in the country, where “targeted killings of civilians are taking place at a deeply disturbing rate,” and expressed regret at “the loss of so many outstanding citizens.”
“The UN repeats its call for a sustained reduction in violence. Lives and gains must be protected, with spoilers prevented from undermining the vital peace negotiations,” UNAMA said in a statement.
Attacks on politicians, journalists, religious leaders, human rights activists, and students have been on the rise for a year, coinciding with a peace agreement signed in February between the United States and the Taliban and the ongoing direct talks between Kabul and the rebels in Doha.
Earlier this week, a journalist was shot dead in front of his house on Monday in the central Ghazni province, marking the fourth targeted killing of a media personnel in the country within the last two months.
On Tuesday, at least three Afghan health workers and their driver were killed in a sticky bomb attack against their vehicle in the Afghan capital.
According to a report by the interior ministry, “enemies of the Afghan people” have carried out 37 suicide attacks and 510 bombings within the last three months, killing at least 500 civilians and injuring over a thousand. EFE-EPA