Three Ladies Working to Vaccinate Kids Shot Useless in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Three well being staff, all girls, working for the federal government’s polio vaccine marketing campaign have been shot lifeless in Jalalabad in jap Afghanistan on Tuesday, native officers stated, solely weeks after three girls working in tv have been killed in the identical metropolis.

The ladies, all of their 20s, have been going about their jobs within the bustling city close to the border with Pakistan after they have been gunned down in two separate assaults.

Semin, 24, and Basira, 20, who like many Afghans each glided by just one title, have been shot and killed by two gunmen as they entered a home in Jalalabad to vaccinate the youngsters who lived there, the governor’s workplace stated.

The 2 have been going door to door within the metropolis, a follow the Taliban have banned up to now in areas underneath their management.

It was Semin’s first vaccination marketing campaign; stated Ahmad Faisal Nizami, the sufferer’s cousin. She had not too long ago been married and had graduated from a instructor coaching school.

Negina, 24, a supervisor for the polio vaccine marketing campaign, which began in Afghanistan on Monday, was shot and killed about an hour later elsewhere within the metropolis.

No group instantly claimed accountability for the killings.

The Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, rejected any involvement within the incident in a WhatsApp message.

Afghanistan, which recorded 56 instances of polio in 2020, in accordance with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, is one of two countries where the disease has not been eradicated, trailing behind Pakistan.

Around the same time as Tuesday’s shootings, there was an explosion at the city’s regional hospital, officials said, in front of the compound where the vaccines are stored. There were no casualties, but windows were shattered.

The latest killings — part of a wave of targeted assassinations often singling out women, journalists, professionals, activists and doctors — happened at a fraught moment for Afghanistan as the Taliban have made steady military gains, and relentlessly attack those deemed as collaborating with the Afghan government. Additionally, remnants of the Islamic State operating in the region have focused on carrying out fewer large-scale bombings and more smaller but targeted assaults.

The United States has yet to definitively say whether it will meet the May 1 deadline for withdrawing all American forces, per an agreement the Trump administration signed with the Taliban in February 2020.

“My niece Basira was a poor girl,” said Haji Moqbel Ahmad, a tribal elder in Jalalabad, who added that the woman had not been threatened before. “She was shot and killed while she was doing her job.”

Basira, a vaccine worker since her teens, had been enlisted for a five-day vaccine campaign for which she would be paid less than $30, officials said.

The month began with the assassination of three women who worked for a television station in Jalalabad. A female television and radio presenter from the same station was gunned down in much the same way in December. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for both incidents.

The New York Times documented the deaths of at least 136 civilians and 168 security force members in such targeted killings in 2020, more than nearly any other year of the war. So far, 2021 has not seen any reprieve from the same kind of violence.

The Taliban are increasing pressure on government and society, asserting dominance as stuttering, intermittent negotiations take place to settle the Afghan conflict.

Jalalabad has been among the hardest hit cities. A day after the television-worker killings, a female doctor there was killed by a roadside bomb.

Ross Wilson, the U.S. chargé d’affaires in Kabul, denounced Tuesday’s killings.

“Such attacks are a direct affront to Afghans’ dream of building a better life for their children,” Mr. Wilson wrote on Twitter. “My deepest condolences for the victims’ households as we name for justice,” he wrote. “Attacking vaccinators is as heartless as it’s inexplicable.”

Humanitarian businesses additionally expressed outrage. Henrietta Fore, government director of Unicef, issued an announcement calling the victims “brave vaccinators who have been on the forefront of efforts to fight the unfold of polio and preserve Afghanistan’s kids protected from this disabling illness.”

Zabihullah Ghazi contributed reporting from Jalalabad and Fahim Abed contributed from Kabul, Afghanistan.

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