Gunmen kill female ex-Afghan journalist in Kabul

Gunmen shot dead Mina Mangal, a former television journalist and adviser to the Afghan parliament in Kabul on Saturday, underlining threats to women and drawing widespread condemnation.

Mangal, who used to report for prominent TV station Ariana News, was killed by two unidentified men on a motorbike close to her home in eastern Kabul, police spokesman Basir Mujahid said.

She had been on her way to work as an adviser to the parliament’s cultural affairs commission.

There was no immediate word on the motive for the attack, but another Kabul police spokesman, Ferdous Farahmarz, said the cause may have been a family dispute.

The killing came during heightened focus on women’s rights, ahead of a possible exit of foreign forces from Afghanistan and potential return of the hardline Taliban to a role in government.

Already outraged at worsening security for women in the capital, some Afghans shared her picture on social media and demanded a severe punishment for the perpetrators.

“In a country where my life is in danger as a journalist, I want the government not to show appreciation for our work but to focus on how to protect us,” Zalma Kharooty, an Afghan female journalist, posted on Facebook.

Afghanistan ranks near the bottom of global indices on gender equality, with forced marriages, honour killings and domestic violence prevalent nationwide, particularly in rural areas.

As U.S.-Taliban peace talks gain momentum, many women fear losing hard-earned freedoms since U.S.-backed Afghan forces overthrew the austere Taliban in 2001.

During their rule from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban barred women from working outside their homes and required them to be accompanied by a male relative.