The Taliban assassinated a female member of Kandahar’s provincial council in a drive-by shooting in the insurgency-plagued southern province.
Sitara Achekzai, a female member of the Kandahar provincial council, was shot to death in broad daylight by unknown assassins in southern Kandahar province on Sunday. A spokesman for the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack. Sitara died shortly after four men traveling on two motorbikes opened fire as she exited a vehicle in front of her house, provincial police chief Maitullah Qateh Khan told the Associated Press. Sitara, a proponent of women’s rights, had returned to Kandahar in 2004 after living in exile in Germany during the Taliban era.
On April 1, the Taliban attacked a Kandahar provincial council meeting shortly before noon, unleashing five suicide bombers in a complex assault that left 13 people dead including provincial education minister Mohammad Anwar Khan and the deputy of the provincial public health department, Dr. Abdulhai Razmal. Sitara Achekzai, who also attended the ill-fated meeting, suffered shrapnel wounds to her face after one of the bombers succeeded in penetrating the building’s main lobby and detonated, collapsing parts of the roof. Six of the ten policemen tasked with securing the building were among those killed in the attack.
Abdul Wali Karzai, a provincial council member and brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, told Pajhwok News that the head of the rural development department, Eng Abdul Latif Ashna; council members Bismillah Afghanmal and Haji Syed Jan Khakrizwal; and an official of UNAMA’s political branch, Mujeebur Rehman, all were injured during the attack.
Taliban officials have reportedly offered 200,000 Pakistani rupees, around $2,500, to anyone who murders a councilor.
The Taliban have a long history of attacking both provincial council meetings and high profile female personalities in Kandahar. In November, a suicide truck bomber detonated a fuel tanker truck near a government compound hosting a provincial council meeting. The massive blast killed six people, wounded 42 others, destroyed five nearby homes, and damaged the provincial intelligence headquarters. General Rahmatullah Raufi, the governor of Kandahar province at the time, said that two of the dead were provincial intelligence officers.
Last September, the Taliban assassinated Captain Malalai Kakar, the top female police officer for Kandahar, in a similar brazen daylight attack that included motorbike assassins shooting her point blank in the head as her son drove her to work. At the time of her death, Ms. Kakar was head of Kandahar’s department of crimes against women.
Other Kandahari commanders and MPs have also been targeted and killed. Two Taliban suicide bombers succeeded in penetrating Kandahar’s provincial police headquarters in September and nearly assassinated the Border Police Commander Abdul Razzaq. On July 7, 2008, MP Habibullah Jan was shot dead by assassins after visiting an Army base in the Zhari district. In February 2008, a Taliban suicide bomber killed at least 55 people including a pro-government militia commander named Abdul Hakim Jan at a dog-fighting match in the Arghandab district of Kandahar.