Mail Online, December 7, 2012

Tragic death of the Afghan female polio worker: shot 6 times

After the gunmen opened fire, Anisa was carried to hospital by her brother but she later died with six bullets found her stomach

By Mario Ledwith

A student and polio volunteer has been shot dead by armed men in a rural Afghan village.

The brutal killing has raised questions about women's safety in the region, with reports suggesting that females are too scared to attend school or work following the murder.

The girl, known only as Anisa, was shot outside her home in Afghanistan's Kapisa province, having survived an attack only a day before.

After the gunmen opened fire, Anisa was carried to hospital by her brother but she later died with six bullets found her stomach.

It is still unsure who is responsible for the murder, but some reports suggest insurgents may have been behind the attack.Anisa was an orphan in her early twenties who worked locally as a volunteer on a polio vaccination programme.

A local council member said that Anisa was being followed by a group and suggested that she may have been targeted for working outside the home.

Anisa young girl killed in Paktia by unknown men
Anisa's dead body. She was shot six times. (Photo: From Facebook)

She told the Guardian: 'She hadn't realised a group was following her and was very afraid.'

Speaking of her own experiences she said: 'Two times these groups called me and told me to stop my job.

'They told me my address and described my home to me. They said "We know everything about you and you have to stop your job".'Anisa's involvement with the polio programme is thought to be one reason why she was targeted.It is understood Anisa received a phone call from her killers on the morning of the attack before she went to work at the polio eradication centre.

The disease is still endemic in Afghanistan and very few children are vaccinated in the Kapisa region.

The Taliban denied any involvement in the murder and said that it was not opposed to polio vaccination.

Taliban members in Pakistan, however, banned the treatment of polio in South Warziristan earlier this year.

Sexism is an endemic social problem in Afghanistan, where violent murders and attacks against women are often unreported.

Statements were issued by senior clerics in the country earlier this year saying that women are subordinate to men and warning that females should not mix with men outside of the home.

Local MP Tahera Mojaddidi, who knew Anisa, blamed the Taliban and said she had discussed the murder with intelligence officials in the province.

She said: ‘In the village, families are saying that from the time when Anisa was killed up until now, their girls cannot go to schools, women who are working for organisations, they do not dare go out, because they think if they do their destiny would be the same as Anisa's.’

She said that officials would not investigate the story, instead proffering false stories, as they wanted to cover-up violent crimes against women in the region.

Officials in the region, however, have denied suggestions that the Taliban was involved.

Saifoorah Kohistani, the province’s director of women's affairs said the Taliban had no presence in the area, while police suggested Anisa had merely been caught in the crossfire of an argument.

Mohammad Makhfous Walizada, deputy provincial police chief, said a man had been arrested and that he had also received testimony from Anisa’s brother.

Another MP, Haji Agha Jan, said the that bullets had ‘mistakenly’ hit Anisa after she was caught up in a family argument.

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