29 Sep 2008

Top Afghan policewoman killed

3:23 pm on 29 September 2008

Taliban militants shot dead the highest-profile female police officer in Afghanistan, and killed four more policemen, in attacks on Sunday.

Lieutenant-Colonel Malalai Kakar, the most senior policewoman in the southern city of Kandahar and a mother of six, was shot dead by gunmen who had been waiting outside her home.

Her teenage son, who was driving her to work, was badly hurt.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Yousuf Ahmadi, told AFP the assassins were from his group.

Lieutenant-Colonel Kakar, 45, was regularly profiled in international media and was known for her courage in one of Afghanistan's most conservative provinces.

She had led many police house searches in Kandahar leading to seizure of arms and drugs in recent years.

She headed a team of at least 10 female police officers and had reportedly received numerous death threats.

President Hamid Karzai said the killing was an "act of cowardice" by Afghanistan's "enemies".

The European Union in Afghanistan said Lieutenant-Colonel Kakar had been an example to others in her country and her murder was "particularly abhorrent".

Kandahar is the birthplace of the extremist Taliban, who rose to take control of government in 1996 before being removed in a United States-led invasion in 2001.

In another attack on police, a suicide bomber on a motorbike blew himself up near two police vehicles in the border town of Spin Boldak near Kandahar, killing three policemen and three civilians.

In the eastern province of Paktika, a police vehicle hit a roadside bomb leaving one policeman dead.

The new violence, part of a Taliban-led insurgency sweeping Afghanistan, came as security officials said they had killed about 30 rebels in various operations, although there were allegations that civilians were among the dead.