BBC NEWS, September 25, 2006

Top Afghan woman official killed

Her requests for secure official transport and personal bodyguards had not been granted by the government.

Unidentified gunmen have killed a top women's affairs official in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, security officials say.

Safia Amajan, head of the province's women's department, was leaving her home for work when a gunman on a motorcycle shot at her, police said.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack. Taliban militants have killed many officials in the past.

The Taliban and other anti-government groups in Afghanistan have gained public support due to the Afghan government's failure to provideessential security and development, and have used the presence of warlords in the government to discredit President Karzai's administration and its international backers.
Human Rights Watch, Sep. 27, 2006

Hundreds of people have been killed in violence in Afghanistan this year. Reports said Mrs Amajan had served as the head of Kandahar women affairs department since the US-led troops overthrew the Taliban in 2001.

The BBC's Dan Isaacs from Kabul says that she was well known as an active campaigner for women's rights in Afghanistan.

It is because of this that she may well have been targeted by the Taliban, whose strict Islamic ideals severely limit the participation of women in politics and education.

In her speeches, Mrs Amajan had openly condemned the Taliban 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, Mrs Amajan was travelling in a public taxi.

Earlier this month, a suicide bomber killed the governor of eastern Afghanistan's Paktia province - the highest-ranking official to die in the insurgency.

Abdul Hakim Taniwal, was attacked outside his office. The Taliban said it carried out the attack.

The Taliban have been increasingly active in Kandahar and elsewhere in southern Afghanistan in recent weeks as Nato-led forces have sought to secure the region and root out insurgent activity.

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