Toronto Star, April 13, 2009
Taliban slain Afghan women’s rights activist
A member of Kandahar's provincial council, Achakzai was vocal in encouraging women to take jobs and fight for equal rights
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan– A female provincial official known for fighting for women's rights was gunned down in southern Afghanistan yesterday, following a day of fighting in the region that left 22 militants dead, officials said.
A Taliban spokesperson, Qari Yousef Ahmedi, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Gunmen killed Sitara Achakzai outside her home in Kandahar city and then drove off, said Matiullah Khan Qateh, police chief of Kandahar province. He said the four men drove up on two motorcycles and shot Achakzai as she was getting out of her car.
Achakzai, a dual German-Afghan citizen, spent the years of Taliban rule in Germany and returned to her native country to fight for women's rights, said Shahida Bibi, a member of the Kandahar women's association who worked with Achakzai.
A member of Kandahar's provincial council, Achakzai was vocal in encouraging women to take jobs and fight for equal rights, Bibi said.
Achakzai had several relatives living in the GTA and was expecting to visit here this summer, nephew Ajmal Maiwand told the Star's Henry Stancu last night.
"She had her tickets, and she was busy picking out and buying gifts for family members," the nephew said.
"She is about people, she was a leader," he said. "We are very proud of what she tried to do, and the whole family misses her so much."
Maiwand said family members fled Afghanistan some 20 years ago, after the Taliban came to power, with some family members settling in Canada, and others, including Achakzai, fleeing to Germany.
She met her husband, Darweza, there and recently the two decided to go back to Afghanistan to help the country develop, the nephew said.
"My mother begged her not to go back, but she insisted. She and her husband felt their place was there. They were adamant about rebuilding the country and had great faith things were going to change," he said.
The day before in neighbouring Zabul province, Afghan soldiers and police killed 22 militants in a nighttime gun battle, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
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