Afghanistan: Two female judges murdered in Kabul

Sylvie Claire / January 17, 2021

 

Two female judges working for the Afghan Supreme Court were shot dead in Kabul on Sunday morning, the latest in a series of targeted assassinations of civil society figures in recent months.

 

Unfortunately, we lost two female judges in today's attack. Their driver is injured, told AFP Ahmad Fahim Qaweem, spokesman for the institution.

 

Armed men attacked (their) vehicle, he said, adding that the two women were on their way to work when they were murdered.

 

More than 200 women judges work for the Supreme Court, he said.

 

The two women were shot dead in the center of Kabul at 08:30 local time (04:00 GMT), according to Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz.

 

The Supreme Court had already been the target of an attack in February 2017 in a suicide bombing targeting a crowd of employees that left at least 20 people dead and 41 injured.

 

In recent weeks, the country has been the scene of a series of targeted assassinations of public figures, including members of the media, politicians and human rights defenders. Members of the security forces were also frequently targeted.

 

On Saturday, two policemen were killed in Kabul in the explosion of a roadside mine as they passed by.

 

- Taliban accused - judges

 

Targeted assassinations are rarely claimed, but Afghan authorities have attributed them to the Taliban, although the Islamic State Organization has claimed some.

 

The U.S. military first blamed the Taliban for targeted attacks last week.

 

The Taliban campaign of unclaimed attacks and killings targeting government officials, civil society leaders, and journalists must stop if peace is to prevail, wrote U.S. forces spokesman in Afghanistan Colonel Sonny Leggett on Twitter.

 

Sunday's double assassination comes two days after Washington announced a recent reduction of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to 2,500 men, the lowest number since 9/11.

 

The Taliban welcomed the announcement, which they described Sunday as a "positive step forward.

 

Last February, President Donald Trump's administration signed an agreement with the Taliban that endorses a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops by May-2021 in exchange for security guarantees.

 

Since then, insurgents have been attacking Afghan forces almost daily in the countryside.

 

In 2020, they have carried out more than 18,000 attacks, Afghan intelligence chief Ahmad Zia Siraj said last week.

 

Violence has only increased across the country in recent months, despite ongoing peace negotiations in Doha, Qatar, between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

 

These talks, which began in September, are progressing very slowly, and both sides are now trying to agree on the agenda for the talks.

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