Men arrested over Afghan women's deaths

·2-min read

Two suspects in the killing of four women in Afghanistan's northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif have been arrested, the Taliban's interior ministry says.

The suspects have confessed to inviting the victims to a house where they were killed, ministry spokesperson Qari Saeed Khosty said on Saturday.

He declined to give further details about how the attack unfolded or the motive.

The four women, including a civil society activist identified as Frozan Safi, were found dead in a house in the Shahrak Khalid area this week, although the circumstances of the killing remain mysterious.

The Taliban's director of information and culture department told dpa on Friday that the killings resulted from a "personal feud."

However, the family members of Safi rejected the idea that they had a personal enmity with anyone.

Safi's father, Abdul Rahman Safi, said his daughter had received a phone call that told her she had been summoned for evacuation to Germany via a third country on October 20.

The family had heard nothing from her for several days, but they assumed she was still on her journey to Germany, Safi's father said.

That all changed once her body was identified at the morgue.

"We were looking for her for 10 days," said her father, who now believes the phone call was a trick. "She was killed by gunshots."

Safi was a civil society activist and a lecturer but she had to stay at home after the Taliban took power in August, her father said.

The identities of the three other women were not known.

The associate director of Human Rights Watch, Heather Barr, said there had been a "terrifying escalation in abuses against women's rights activists" since the Taliban's takeover of power.

Women have been banned from returning to work and girls have not been allowed to attend secondary school. Street protests by women's rights activists have been violently put down.

Many activists, journalists, judges, and former government officials have fled the country.

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