Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 26 November 2020

Car bomb kills Afghan radio journalist in Helmand province

Aliyas Dayee was a reporter for the US-funded Radio Liberty

An Afghan policeman stands next to the car of radio journalist Aliyas Dayee after it was blown up on November 12, 2020 in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province. AP Photo
An Afghan policeman stands next to the car of radio journalist Aliyas Dayee after it was blown up on November 12, 2020 in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province. AP Photo

An Afghan journalist working for a US-funded radio network was killed when a bomb was attached to his car in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, just days after a former TV presenter was murdered in Kabul.

Radio Liberty reporter Aliyas Dayee was killed when a "sticky bomb" attached to his car exploded in the city of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, a spokesman for the provincial governor said.

The killing of prominent figures, including journalists, clerics, politicians and rights activists, has become more common in recent months as violence surges in Afghanistan, despite peace talks between the government and the Taliban.

Dayee, 33, was on his way to the local press club with his brother when the car exploded, Radio Liberty chief editor Rateb Noori said. Dayee's brother and two others were wounded.

Lashkar Gah has been the centre of intense fighting between government forces and the Taliban in recent weeks.

"Without a doubt, the assassination of Aliyas Dayee is the work of the enemies of freedom of expression and media," Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, said on Twitter.

Mr Ghani said his government was "committed to preserving and expanding freedom of expression".

Radio Liberty, set up during the Cold War, is funded by the US government.

The top US envoy in Kabul, Ross Wilson, said Dayee's murder was "another attack on the freedom of the press".

"These attacks on journalists must stop immediately," Mr Wilson said on Twitter.

The Afghan Journalists Safety Committee, a group set up by media networks to oversee security for journalists in the country, urged its members to "keep safety as their highest priority".

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Yama Siawash, a former Afghan TV presenter, was killed on Saturday in a similar bomb attack in Kabul.

There has surging violence across Afghanistan, much of it unleashed by the Taliban as they try to gain leverage in seemingly stalled peace talks in Qatar.

Taliban militants last month launched an offensive to seize Lashkar Gah, causing thousands of families to flee.

Helmand, a Taliban stronghold, is where international forces fought some of the bloodiest campaigns of Afghanistan's 19-year war.

On Wednesday, Vice President Amrullah Saleh accused the Taliban of planning to kill members of civil groups.

"They are soft targets," Mr Saleh said on Twitter.

"The killings are aimed at eroding and hurting the emotions of the society, which will lead to people's dissatisfaction with the government."

Updated: November 13, 2020 01:59 AM

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