Gunmen shoot dead former news anchor in Afghanistan’s Kandahar

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, center, speaks to journalists after voting at Amani high school, near the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. Afghans headed to the polls on Saturday to elect a new president amid high security and Taliban threats to disrupt the elections, with the rebels warning citizens to stay home or risk being hurt.

Gunmen shot dead a finance ministry employee and former news anchor in Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar, provincial officials said on Thursday, the latest in a spate of attacks in recent weeks.

Journalists, civil society activists, government officials, and judges are among those targeted in such attacks in recent months, while Washington announced plans last month to pull out all U.S. troops by Sept. 11.

Nimat Rawan, a former news anchor at ToloNews, the largest private television station, was shot dead on Thursday morning, said Jamal Naser, a spokesman for provincial police.

“We have launched an investigation,” he added.

No group immediately claimed responsibility, but government officials and Western powers usually blame Taliban insurgents for what they say is a tactic to spread fear while avoiding large civilian casualties.

Violence is at its worst in Afghanistan, with daily fighting between Afghan security forces and the Taliban, who are waging an insurgency to overthrow the foreign-backed government since the Islamist movement was ousted in 2001.

In just two days, the Taliban captured a second district in the northern province of Baghlan on Thursday, said provincial police spokesman Jawed Basharat.

Six Afghan security forces were killed in a Taliban night-time attack on their outpost in the central province of Ghazni, a local official said.

The Afghan government says the Taliban have killed and wounded more than 50 troops in attacks in at least 26 provinces during the last 24 hours, while its forces killed dozens of Taliban over the same period.

Although the United States missed a May 1 withdrawal deadline agreed in talks with the Taliban last year, its pull-out has begun.

Critics of President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw say the Islamist militants will try to sweep back into power.

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