Fierce Critic of the Taliban Safia Amajan Shot Dead

Friday, July 23 2010

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 Taliban militants because of their opposition to women taking part in politics and education. Hundreds have died in clashes between troops and Taliban fighters this year.

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 Taliban government was toppled by US-led forces in 2001.

An eloquent public speaker, Safia Amajan was fierce in her criticism of what she saw as the Taleban's repression of women. After the US-led invasion in 2001, the former teacher took charge of women's affairs in Kandahar's provincial government.

In a conservative region where most families keep wives and daughters cloistered indoors, she was able to attract hundreds of women to schools and vocational courses.

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

A spokesman for the UN agency overseeing development in Afghanistan condemned the "senseless murder of a woman who was simply working to ensure that all Afghan women play a full and equal part in the future of Afghanistan".

BBC News 25/Sep/06


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