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Afghanistan

Helmand's Top Policewoman Dies After Attack

Slain Afghan Policewoman Buried in Helmandi
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September 16, 2013
Friends and family have attended the funeral of the highest-ranking female police officer in Afghanistan's Helmand Province. Lieutenant Nigar was gunned down on September 15 by unknown assailants near her house in Lashkar Gah and later died of wounds at a local hospital. A colleague of Nigar's who attended the funeral told the Reuters news agency that the Taliban had threatened to kill every woman police officer in Helmand within three months. (Reuters)
WATCH: Slain Afghan policewoman, Lieutenant Nigar, is buried in Helmand Province

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By RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan
LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan -- Afghan officials say the highest-ranking female police officer in the country's southern Helmand Province has died from wounds inflicted by unknown attackers.

Provincial government spokesman Omar Zawak and Helmand police spokesman Fareed Ahmad Obaidi said Lieutenant Nigar died of her injuries at Lashkar Gah Hospital, where she had been taken for treatment after the September 15 attack.

Zawak described the 38-year-old inspector as "one of our top police officers in Helmand."

BACKGROUNDER: Why Would Anyone Want To Become An Afghan Police Officer?

Nigar was walking in front of her house near police headquarters in Lashkar Gah when she was shot in the neck by two gunmen on a motorcycle.

The gunmen fled from the scene. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Distinguished Service

Nigar had worked for seven years as a criminal investigator.

In her last post, she was the top officer in the women's investigation section and was based at Lashkar Gah airport.

Before working in Helmand, she had been posted in the capital, Kabul. She had two children.

Her son, Hamid Jan, described how he heard the news of his mother's death.

"When I was going to my work on my motorbike, I asked my mom to come with me on the motorbike. But she refused and told me that a car is coming to pick her up," he told Reuters. "I was on my way when I received a call that informed me that my mother had been shot. When I arrived, I saw that she was shot near our house."


ALSO READ: Protections For Women Under Threat In Afghanistan

Nigar became Helmand Province's highest-ranking female police officer in July after her high-profile predecessor at that rank -- Islam Bibi -- was shot dead by unknown assailants.

Taliban Threats

Bibi had been seen as an example of how opportunities for women have improved in Afghanistan since the Taliban regime was ousted in 2001.

But the 37-year-old Bibi, a mother of three, also received regular death threats from people who disapproved of her career -- including her own brother, who allegedly tried to kill her three times.

Following the attack on Nigar, an unidentified policewoman in Lashkar Gah told Reuters of recent threats by the Taliban.

"We have received a warning from the Taliban that they will kill each of us within three months," she said. "They said that they will kill every single policewoman in Helmand within three months."


ALSO READ: "We Are Not Afraid Of Death:" Lieutenant Nigar's Last Interview With RFE/RL

After Bibi was murdered, Nigar spoke to RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan about the dangers faced by women who take on high-profile public roles in Afghanistan.

Nigar said she was not scared of being a policewoman in ultraconservative Helmand Province and that she was determined to continue doing a job that she loved.

"This is Afghanistan," Nigar said. "Fighting has been going on for 30 years in this country. [Dangerous things] happen. Either you die or live on. We are not afraid of death."

Nigar also told RFE/RL that she received regular death threats. But she said Afghanistan needed more female police officers to protect women who often suffer repression, sexual violence, and discrimination in the country.

With reporting by VOA, AP, and AFP

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