Kabul, Dec 21 (efe-epa).- Afghan journalist Rahmatullah Nikzad was shot dead on Monday in front of his house in the central Ghazni province, marking the fourth targeted killing of a journalist in the country within the last two months. .
“Another Afghan journalist killed today,” tweeted nonprofit Afghan Journalists Safety Committee, announcing that Nikzad had been shot outside his house on Monday evening.
The group urged the Afghan government to “take serious measures towards protection of journalists” from the “serial killings.”
Interior ministry spokesperson Tariq Arian tweeted confirmation of the death of Nikzad – who collaborated with various international media outlets – and condemned the incident as an attack on freedom of expression committed by “those who see journalists’ deaths as a way of hiding their war crimes.”
No rebel group has taken responsibility for the assassination so far, and the Taliban distanced themselves from the incident while “strongly” condemning the “cowardly act.”
“Nikzad had a very good relationship with us as a committed journalist,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted.
Media watchdogs consider Afghanistan as one of the deadliest countries for journalists, ranking 122 out of 180 in the Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) 2020 world press freedom rankings.
Just within the past months Afghan journalist Elyas Dayee – who worked for broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – and prominent TV presenter Yama Syawash, associated with popular news broadcaster Tolo, were killed in two separate sticky bomb explosions in their vehicles.
Earlier this month, Malala Maiwand – journalist working for local TV channel Enakas and a prominent social activist – was shot dead along with her driver in an attack claimed by the Islamic State terror group.
Both the IS and the Taliban have often threatened media professionals in nearly two decades of war in Afghanistan and carried out multiple attacks against the press, with Tolo being targeted in one of the worst incidents in 2016 in which seven of its employees were killed.
In 2018, the deadliest year for the Afghan press, 20 journalists and media workers were killed, and another 20 wounded in attacks related to their work. EFE-EPA