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Five Arrested In Killing Of Top Afghan Policewoman

Relatives and colleagues at the funeral of Lieutenant Nigar, who was died following an attack by armed gunman.
LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan -- Five men have been arrested in Afghanistan for their connection to the killing of a top female police officer.

A spokesman for the regional police in Afghanistan's southern province of Helmand told reporters on September 17 that the five were suspects in the murder of Lieutenant Nigar. No other details were given.

Nigar, who used only one name, died in the hospital early on September 16, shortly after she was shot by gunmen on a motorcycle near police headquarters in Lashkar Gah, Helmand's provincial capital. She was buried later the same day.

Nigar had worked seven years as a criminal investigator in Lashkar Gah.

She became the highest-ranking female police officer in Helmand Province after her predecessor, also a woman, was murdered in July.

READ MORE: Helmand's Top Policewoman Dies After Attack

The killings have focused attention on the dangers faced by Afghan women who take on high-profile public roles.

An unidentified policewoman in Lashkar Gah, speaking to Reuters after the attack on Nigar, said Taliban militants had threatened to "kill every single policewoman in Helmand within three months."

Nigar told RFE/RL in July that she received regular death threats. But she said she was determined to continue her work, and that Afghanistan needed more female police officers to protect women.

"Sometimes people are terrified when police enter their homes," she said. "I take off my veil and keep telling them, 'Don't be afraid, we are women police.' We introduce ourselves to the women and conduct our search operation, and I find that they are very happy and satisfied with us."

ALSO READ: Interview With Lieutenant Nigar: 'We Are Not Afraid Of Death'

"The New York Times" on September 16 cited an unpublished United Nations report as saying close to 70 percent of female police officers in Afghanistan have been subjected to sexual harassment or sexual violence at the hands of their male colleagues.

The Afghan Interior Ministry called the report an "exaggeration," but said it was committed to improving the working conditions for policewomen, who make up just 1 percent of the roughly 155,000-member force.