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Afghan female provincial legislator shot dead

Two armed men on motorbikes gunned down a woman provincial legislator in Afghanistan's volatile southern city of Kandahar on Sunday, an official said. No one has claimed responsibility of the attack.

world Updated: Apr 12, 2009 18:57 IST

Two armed men on motorbikes gunned down a woman provincial legislator in Afghanistan's volatile southern city of Kandahar on Sunday, an official said.

Sitara Achikzai was on her way home from work when she was killed in the drive-by shooting outside her house, the head of the council, Ahmad Wali Karzai told AFP.

"She has been martyred by two men on motorbikes and the case is under investigation," said Karzai, brother of President Hamid Karzai.

He blamed the attack on "enemies of Afghanistan", a term often used to refer to Islamist Taliban insurgents behind a wave of killings, including assassinations, as part of an insurgency.

There was however no immediate claim of responsibility.

Taliban gunmen in the city shot dead the most high-profile female police officer in Afghanistan in September last year.
The fundamentalists -- who barred women from working when they were in government between 1996 and 2001 -- were also blamed for an attack in Kandahar in November in which acid was sprayed into the faces of schoolgirls.

Afghanistan's provincial councils are elected authorities that act as provincial parliaments and are a key facet of the war-torn country's attempts to install democracy after the ouster of the Taliban government.

Kandahar province, from where the Taliban rose as a militia in the early 1990s, had three women on its provincial council.
Another woman, Zarghona Kakar, survived an assassination attempt two years ago in which her husband was killed, an AFP reporter said.

Taliban militants attacked the offices of the Kandahar provincial council on April 1 with four suicide attackers storming the building, some of them opening fire as they went, killing 13 people including senior government officials.

Council elections are due on August 20, coinciding with the presidential vote, and authorities are concerned that the Al-Qaeda-linked Taliban will target the polls.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, which is helping Afghanistan to fight the insurgency and extend government authority, has requested thousands of reinforcements to help shore up security for the vote.