8 killed in latest attacks on civilians in Afghanistan
Attack follows killing of 3 female journalists earlier this week
At least seven Afghan civilians were shot and killed by a group of gunmen overnight in the country's east and a physician died when a bomb attached to her rickshaw exploded on Thursday, provincial officials said.
The Islamic State group in a statement claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying its fighters had detonated a so-called sticky bomb placed on the vehicle of a woman. The statement claimed she worked for the Afghan intelligence service in Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province.
Gen. Juma Gul Hemat, provincial police chief in Nangarhar, said the shooting attack victims were workers at a plaster factory in the Sorkh Rod district. Police arrested four suspects, he said.
The labourers were all from Afghanistan's minority Shia Hazara community, according to Farid Khan, spokesman for the provincial police chief. Some had come from the capital of Kabul, as well as central Bamyan and northern Balkh provinces, to work in the factory.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for that attack, but militants from the Islamic State group have declared war on Shias and frequently target the Hazaras.
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Eastern Afghanistan has witnessed an increase of attacks by ISIS, including an attack on Tuesday in which three women who worked at a private TV station were gunned down in Jalalabad.
ISIS claimed responsibility for killing the three women — Mursal Wahidi, Sadia Sadat and Shahnaz Raufi. The three left work together and were gunned down in separate attacks while on their way home, almost at the same time.
But many other attacks have gone unclaimed. The government blames most on the resurgent Taliban, who today hold sway over nearly half the country. The Taliban, in turn, deny any role in some of the attacks and blame the government.
In Thursday's bombing in Jalalabad, the female doctor was killed while on her way to work at the provincial hospital's maternity ward.
Meanwhile in western Herat province, 39 people, both military and civilians, were wounded when security forces launched an operation to arrest a local militia commander, sparking a firefight, the governor's office said. The wounded, including three children, are being treated.
The militiaman was not arrested and remains on the run, said Wahid Qatali, the provincial governor in Herat.
Afghanistan has seen a spike in targeted killings, coinciding with the signing of a peace deal between the United States and the Taliban in February 2020. Both the Taliban and the government blame the other for staging the attacks to discredit the peace deal or leverage greater concessions.
The Biden administration is reviewing the deal, which calls for the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops by May 1. Officials say no decision has been made.