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Afghan rights activist, 3 other women slain; 2 suspects held

November 6, 2021 GMT

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Two suspects have been arrested in connection with the killings of a civil society activist and three other women whose bodies were found in a house in northern Afghanistan last week, a senior Taliban security official and a co-worker of the slain activist said Saturday.

The suspects confessed to luring the women to the house in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif, Sayed Khosti, the spokesman of the Taliban-run Interior Ministry, said in a video statement posted on Twitter.

He did not say whether the suspects also confessed to the killings. He did not offer a motive for the killings or identify the victims. The case is being referred to a court, he said.

One of the victims was Frozan Safi, 29, according to a local cultural center where she worked. Safi had been desperate to leave Afghanistan because she feared for her future under restrictive Taliban rule and because she wanted to join her fiance, also an activist, who fled the country previously, said Sayed Azim Sadat, director of the Zainuddin Mohammad Babar Cultural Center.

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Safi left her home close to three weeks ago to meet someone who claimed he could help her get out of Afghanistan, Sadat told The Associated Press. Khosti said the suspects confessed during interrogation that they had invited the women to the house.

Some activists have reported receiving phone calls and emails from suspicious people who claimed they could help those wanting to leave Afghanistan. The activists were asked to share their personal details and were invited to come to certain locations, according to posts in reporters’ WhatsApp groups.

Since the Taliban overran the capital of Kabul on Aug. 15, tens of thousands of Afghans have left the country. Most managed to get out during a chaotic airlift overseen by U.S. and NATO troops before their departure from Afghanistan at the end of August.

The Taliban have since reassured the international community that they would not block the departure of Afghans and foreign citizens with valid passports and visas. Hundreds of people have left Afghanistan on flights and by land since the end of August.

However, those without passports or visas don’t have an immediate departure option.