Rights activist among four women killed in northern Afghanistan

Frozan Safi and three others were found dead in Mazar-i-Sharif

Four women have been killed in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Taliban government said on Saturday.

Local sources identified at least one of the victims as a rights activist.

Two suspects have been arrested after the four bodies were found at a house in the city, interior ministry spokesman Qari Saeed Khosti said.

“The arrested people have admitted in initial interrogation that the women were invited to the house by them. Further investigations are under way and the case has been referred to court,” he said.

Mr Khosti did not identify the victims, but sources in Mazar-i-Sharif told AFP news agency that one of the dead was Frozan Safi, a women’s rights activist and university lecturer.

Three sources in Mazar-i-Sharif told AFP they had heard that the women received a call that they thought was an invitation to join an evacuation flight and were picked up by car, only to be found dead later.

“I knew one of those women, Frozan Safi,” a female employee of an international organisation told AFP, on condition of anonymity. “She was also a women’s activist, really well known in the city.”

The source said that three weeks ago she had herself received a call from someone pretending to help her to travel abroad to safety.

“He knew all information about me, asked me to send my documents, wanted me to fill a questionnaire, pretending to be an official of my office in charge of giving information to the US for my evacuation,” she said.

After becoming suspicious she blocked the caller, and is now living in fear. She was shocked when she heard about the killings.

“I was already scared,” she said. “My mental health is not good nowadays. I am always afraid that someone might come to my door, take me somewhere and shoot me.”

The Taliban, a deeply conservative movement, seized power in Afghanistan in August after a 20-year war against the former US-backed government.

Taliban fighters have broken up some of the protests, and the government has threatened to arrest any journalists covering unauthorised gatherings.

But the movement’s leaders have insisted that their fighters are not authorised to kill activists. They have promised that any who do so will be punished.

Updated: November 6th 2021, 10:56 AM