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Taliban Shoot Legislator Dead

Taliban militants in Kandahar province continue to viciously target women, in particular those associated with the government of Afghanistan. In recent days, the extremist group gunned down 52-year-old Sitara Achakzai, a leading female Afghan politician in Kandahar.

Last year, Ms. Achakzai put herself at the forefront of the women’s rights struggle in Kandahar by organizing a “prayer for peace” demonstration in one of the city’s biggest mosques on International Women’s Day.

The Taliban has murdered and assaulted other women in Kandahar. Malalai Kakar, a top policewoman in Kandahar city, was killed last September, and schoolgirls have had acid thrown in their faces as punishment for attending school. In 2006, Safia Amajan, the head of Kandahar’s women’s affairs department was assassinated.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan condemned “in the strongest possible terms the vicious and deliberate killing of provincial legislator Sitara Achakzai.” U.N. spokeswoman Nilab Mubarez said, “Those responsible for this callous act have clearly shown their disrespect for the true Afghan traditions and there is no justification for such a cowardly act.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered the security forces in Kandahar province to arrest the assailants and bring them to justice. “The enemies of the Afghan people should know,” he said, “that they cannot stop the process of peace and stability in the country by killing of those who truly serve this country and want it to stand on its own feet.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that “there’s a continuing commitment to women and girls [in Afghanistan], to their well-being, to their education, their healthcare, to their full integration into society.”