KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) — Taliban gunmen shot dead the most high-profile female police officer in Afghanistan and wounded her teenaged son as she left home to go to work Sunday, officials and the militia said.
Attackers waiting outside the home of Malalai Kakar, head of the city of Kandahar's department of crimes against women, opened fire on her car as she left, Kandahar government spokesman Zalmay Ayoobi told AFP.
"Today between 7 am and 8 am when she was (in her car) outside her house and going to her job, some gunmen attacked," Ayoobi said.
"Malalai Kakar died in front of her house. Her son was wounded."
A doctor in the city's main hospital said Kakar, in her late 40s, had been shot in the head.
"She died on the spot and her son was badly injured and is in a coma," he said on condition of anonymity.
Her son, aged 15, had been driving Kakar to work, police said. The boy later came out of the coma but was in a serious condition.
A spokesman for the extremist Taliban movement, which targets government officials as part of a growing deadly insurgency, said that the assassins were from his group.
"We killed Malalai Kakar," spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi told AFP. "She was our target, and we successfully eliminated our target."
President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack, saying in a statement that it was an "act of cowardice" by the "enemies of the peace and welfare and reconstruction of Afghanistan."
The European Mission branch in Afghanistan said Kakar had been an "example" in her country and her murder was "particularly abhorrent."
The interior ministry praised her as a "brave hero and loyal to her profession."
Kakar, a mother of six, was regularly profiled in international media and was known for her courage in one of Afghanistan's most conservative provinces.
A captain in the police force and the most senior policewoman in Kandahar, she headed a team of about 10 women police officers and had reportedly received numerous death threats.
Kandahar is the birthplace of the extremist Taliban, who are mounting a growing insurgency that targets government officials.
During their 1996-2001 hold on power, the Taliban stopped women from working outside the home and even leaving home without a male relative and an all-covering burqa.
Kakar was the first woman to enrol in the Kandahar police force after the 2001 ouster of the Taliban and had been involved in investigating crimes against women and children, and conducting house searches.
The head of Kandahar province's women's affairs department was killed in a similar way two years ago.
And in June gunmen shot dead a female police officer in the western province of Herat in what was believed to be the first assassination of a female police officer in the war-torn country.
Bibi Hoor, 26, was on her way home when two armed men on motorbikes opened fire, killing her instantly. It was not clear who killed her or why.
Afghanistan's police force was destroyed by the time the Taliban were removed and is being rebuilt with international assistance. It numbers about 80,000 people, including a few hundred women.
About 750 policemen have been killed in the past six months, mostly in insurgency-linked violence sweeping the country.
In other violence linked to a Taliban-led insurgency, a government official said police had ambushed and killed 17 Taliban insurgents in Helmand province on Saturday.
The US-led coalition said meanwhile it killed six militants in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday.
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