Kabul, Mar 3 (efe-epa).- Afghan police on Wednesday said they had arrested a suspected Taliban militant, allegedly involved in the killing of three women TV anchors even as the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the murders a day ago.
The three media workers were gunned down on Tuesday and buried this afternoon amid a pall of gloom and fear that has engulfed their friends and families in the eastern city of Jalalabad.
“Police have arrested Qari Basir, the planner and attacker of the assault on the three employees of the Enikass Radio Television,” Nangarhar police press office told EFE.
The police claimed they have recovered a pistol from the possession of the man who is allegedly a member of the Taliban group.
But the Taliban dismissed the police claim and said its fighters had nothing to do with the killings.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted “clarification”, saying the “attack on female journalists in Nangarhar has no relation with” the group.
However, the Islamic State militant group contradicted the police claim and similar allegations by the government about the Taliban involvement.
The Islamic State posted the claim late on Tuesday on its propaganda channel of Telegram social media network.
It said its militants gunned down the three female journalists because they worked for one of the “media stations loyal to the apostate Afghan government” in Jalalabad.
Dozens of mourners attended the burial of the three women who worked with a private Enikass Radio Television network that runs new and entertainment programs.
Sher Shah Hamdard, the head of the Safety Committee for Journalists in Nangarhar province, told EFE that many of their media friends did not attend the funerary services because of the “security concerns.”
Hamdard said the killings had triggered a sense of fear among the journalistic fraternity in the Nangarhar province.
“Journalists and media professionals in Nangarhar are now more worried than in the past about their security,” he said.
“Some journalists have been hiding in their homes, some forced to quit jobs,” Hamdard said.
It was the second attack on female journalists of the TV network in the past three months.
Malala Maiwand, also an anchor, was shot dead with her driver in December by unidentified gunmen.
President Ashraf Ghani, in a statement, blamed the Taliban for the “unforgivable crime” of killing “our innocent citizens, especially on women.”
“The Taliban by launching such attacks, terror and horror cannot silence the straight voice for the defense of republic and the achievement of the past two decades,” he said.
The murders are the latest in a series of target killings in the country that have spiked in the past year after the signing of a peace deal between the United States and the Taliban in February 2020.
Such attacks have taken place more frequently with the start of intra-Afghan talks in Doha in September 2020.