KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Separate bombing and shooting attacks in Afghanistan’s capital left at least three people dead Wednesday, including the head of an independent elections watchdog, officials said.
The attacks are the latest amid relentless violence in the country even as Taliban and Afghan government negotiators hold talks in Qatar, trying to hammer out a peace deal that could put an end to decades of war.
Unknown gunmen shot and killed Mohammad Yousuf Rasheed, executive director of the non-governmental Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan, said Ferdaws Faramarz, spokesman for Kabul’s police chief.
The attack took place during Rasheed’s morning commute to FEFA’s office in Kabul, he said. Rasheed’s driver later died in a hospital from his wounds, Faramarz said.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, the U.S.’s acting ambassador, and many social media users condemned the attack on Rasheed.
Ghani in a statement said Rasheed had spent many years working to institutionalize democracy and transparency in the electoral process.
“By carrying out such attacks, the enemies can not push back the current Afghanistan, which has achieved recent progress and achievements with the tireless efforts and sacrifices of the people,” he said.
Ross Wilson, the U.S.’s ranking diplomat in Afghanistan, tweeted that Rasheed was a dedicated and steadfast advocate for representative democracy in the country.
“He worked tirelessly for years to ensure free and transparent elections that engaged all Afghans,” he said. “His death is a loss for his family, friends and nation.”
In a separate attack in the capital Wednesday, a police vehicle was targeted by a sticky bomb in the eastern part of the city. The blast killed one police officer and wounded two others, according to Faramarz.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for either attack, but the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for multiple attacks in Kabul in recent months, including on educational institutions that killed 50 people, most of them students.
IS took responsibility for an attack in Kabul on Tuesday in which a roadside bombing tore through a vehicle killing five people, three of them doctors on their way to work at the city’s main penitentiary.
Among the dead was Nazefa Ibrahimi, the acting health director of the prison. Another doctor was in serious condition.
IS said it targeted prison administrators in the attack. The victims’ car, a white sedan, did not appear to have any markings on it that indicated its passengers were medical workers.
Violence in Afghanistan has spiked even during Taliban and Afghan government peace negotiations, which began in September. The talks, after some recent procedural progress, have been suspended until early January and there is speculation the resumption could be further delayed.
At the same time, Taliban militants have waged bitter battles against IS fighters, particularly in eastern Afghanistan, while continuing their insurgency against government forces and keeping their promise not to attack U.S. and NATO troops.
IS has also claimed responsibility for last week’s rocket attacks targeting the major U.S. base in Afghanistan. There were no casualties in that assault, according to NATO and provincial officials.
Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.
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