Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 July 2020

Two Afghan human rights workers killed in blast in Kabul

Violence in the country is rising despite a US-brokered peace process

Security officers stand in front of a maternity hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan. AP
Security officers stand in front of a maternity hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan. AP

A bomb attached to a vehicle killed two members of Afghanistan’s independent human rights commission in Kabul on Saturday, the group said, as violence in the country rose despite a US-brokered peace process.

Donor co-ordinator Fatima Khalil, 24, and driver Ahmad Jawed Folad, 41, were killed by an explosive device, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said in a statement.

They were travelling inside an AIHRC vehicle on Saturday, on the way to the organisation’s office, it said.

“It is intolerable, assassinating human rights defenders is a war crime in the context of armed conflict,” the AIHRC said

Its staff had previously been the target of attacks, it said.

Kabul’s police spokesman confirmed that two people died in a blast early on Saturday.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack. A Taliban spokesman denied the group was involved.

It comes at a sensitive time amid heightened violence around Afghanistan, including growing attacks against officials in urban centres.

The US and other foreign players are trying to usher the insurgent Taliban and the Afghan government towards peace talks after Washington signed a troop withdrawal deal in February with the militant group to pave the way to ending more than 18 years of war.

Negotiations were expected to begin soon after progress was made on a dispute over the release of a controversial group of Taliban prisoners, Reuters reported on Friday.

But a diplomatic source in Kabul said rising violence could hamper the peace process, and that foreign players were trying to appeal to the Taliban to reduce attacks.

The UN and foreign powers, including the UK and Turkey, condemned the Saturday attack.

“There can be no justification for attacks against human rights defenders. Immediate investigation needed with perpetrators held to account,” the UN mission to Afghanistan said on Twitter.

Updated: June 27, 2020 07:18 PM

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