A leading Afghan official working on women’s rights has been shot dead in the southern province of Kandahar.
Safia Amajan, head of the province’s women’s department, was leaving her home for work when a gunman on a motorcycle opened fire, police said.
She may have been targeted by Taleban militants because of their opposition to women taking part in politics and education, the BBC’s Dan Isaacs says.
Hundreds have died in clashes between troops and Taleban fighters this year.
Nato-led forces have been battling a resurgent Taleban militia, with some of the fiercest fighting taking place in the south of the country.
Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack on Safia Amajan.
She had served as head of women’s affairs in Kandahar’s provincial government since the Taleban government was toppled by US-led forces in 2001.
In her speeches, she had openly condemned the Taleban for their treatment of women.
Her requests for secure official transport and personal bodyguards had not been granted by the government.
At the time of the attack, she was travelling in a taxi.
Michael Yon’s latest dispatch sounds the alarm:
There is a widespread notion that Afghanistan is safer for our troops than Iraq, yet Coalition and NATO combat deaths in Afghanistan are per capita nearly identical to those in Iraq. In 2007, per capita combat deaths will–in my opinion–likely be significantly higher in Afghanistan than Iraq. Why? There are many reasons, but one of the most important is that after years of neglect and dawdling, our European allies are awakening to the reality that a monster really is under the bed. But this awareness is not keeping pace with the threat. Our European friends are still not providing their people with proper equipment, all while the Taliban is getting stronger from the billion dollar narcotics backwash that floods enemy coffers. As in Iraq, troop numbers are also dangerously low in Afghanistan, where the handfuls of friendly forces additionally lack sufficient air power to stretch their security resources.
In the Wall Street Journal, there’s a similar warning about the resurgence of the Taliban and al Qaeda…from John Kerry. I know. But it’s still worth considering.
More: Newsweek’s cover is “Losing Afghanistan.”
NATO officials say the Taliban seems to be flush with cash, thanks to the guerrillas’ alliance with prosperous opium traffickers. The fighters are paid more than $5 a day—good money in Afghanistan, and at least twice what the new Afghan National Army’s 30,000 soldiers receive. It’s a bad sign, too, that a shortage of local police has led Karzai to approve a plan allowing local warlords—often traffickers themselves—to rebuild their private armies. U.N. officials have spent the past three years trying to disband Afghanistan’s irregular militias, which are accused of widespread human-rights abuses. Now the warlords can rearm with the government’s blessing. Afghanistan is “unfortunately well on its way” to becoming a “narco-state,” NATO’s supreme commander, Marine Gen. Jim Jones, said before Congress last week.
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