Image: Safia Ama Jan.
Ahmad Masood  /  Reuters file
Safia Ama Jan, head of Afghanistan's Ministry of Women's Affairs, is seen in Japan in this undated photo. Gunmen on a motorcycle shot her dead on Monday.
updated 9/26/2006 6:55:33 AM ET 2006-09-26T10:55:33

Two gunmen on a motorbike killed the southern provincial head of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs outside her home Monday in apparent retribution for her efforts to help educate women, officials said.

Safia Ama Jan was slain outside the front gate of her Kandahar home as she was walking to her office, said Tawfiq ul-Ulhakim Parant, senior adviser to the women’s ministry in Kabul.

Ama Jan was known for being an active proponent of women’s rights and education in this former Taliban stronghold, a region where insurgents have turned increasingly violent in the last several months.

President Hamid Karzai said he was deeply saddened by her death.

“The enemies of Afghanistan are trying to kill those people who are working for the peace and prosperity of Afghanistan,” Karzai said in a statement. “The enemies of Afghanistan must understand that we have millions of people like (Ama Jan) who will continue to serve this great nation.”

Hundreds of mourners — including the provincial governor and tribal leaders — attended her funeral Monday evening at a packed Shiite mosque in Kandahar.

“The enemy of Afghanistan killed her, but they should know it will not derail women from the path we are on. We will continue on our way,” said Fariba Ahmedi, a female member of parliament from Kandahar who attended.

Mullah Sadullah, a regional Taliban commander, claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to The Associated Press. It was impossible to verify the claim.

She was former teacher
One of Ama Jan’s most successful projects was running vocational schools for women, said her secretary, Abdullah Khan. “She was always trying her best to improve education for women,” Khan said.

In Kandahar alone, Ama Jan had opened six schools where almost 1,000 women learned how to bake and sell their goods at market. She had also opened tailoring schools for women, and clothes made there found their way to Western markets, Khan said.

During the Taliban’s rule, Ama Jan, a former teacher, ran an underground school for girls out of her home, said Mohammed Asif, her nephew.

Taliban holdouts have launched an increasing number of attacks this year, particularly in the south, where dozens of schools have been destroyed. The fighters are also increasingly targeting civilians and government officials with suicide and roadside bombs.

The Taliban, which was ousted from power after a U.S.-led invasion in 2001, follows an ultraconservative ideology. When the regime ran the country, women were banned from schools and jobs and couldn’t leave their homes without a male escort.

Aleem Sidique, spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said the U.N. was “appalled at this senseless murder.”

“What we need to see in Afghanistan is peace, development and progress,” Sidique said. “We share the sentiment of the majority of Afghan people who are appalled at this killing.”

Other attacks, fighting
In other violence, a police vehicle hit a roadside bomb Monday in eastern Afghanistan near the border between Khost and Paktia provinces, killing two police officers and wounding eight, said Khalil Amin Zada, commander of border police in Khost province.

A suicide bomber on foot targeted an Afghan army vehicle patrol in the same province, slightly wounding an American soldier who was training Afghan troops, said Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, a U.S. military spokesman.

The soldier received minor burns to his face and shoulder, while the bomber died in the blast, Fitzpatrick said.

U.S. forces killed 10 suspected Taliban insurgents in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, the U.S. military said. Troops backed by attack helicopters clashed with some 15 suspected insurgents in the Sharan district of Paktika province, the statement said. Ten suspected insurgents were believed killed while five fled, it said.

Two militants were killed just outside Khost city when a bomb they were carrying exploded prematurely in their car, said Gen. Mohammed Ayub, the provincial police chief. The two were planning to carry out a bombing in the town, he said. There were no other casualties.

Some 20 militants attacked the house of a district chief in neighboring Paktika province late Sunday, killing him, said Sayed Jamal, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

Authorities launched a search Monday for the perpetrators, recovering the district chief’s vehicle and detaining nine people for questioning, Jamal said.

Suspected Taliban militants, meanwhile, attacked and destroyed a medical clinic in Yaqoubi district of the eastern Khost province Sunday, Ayub said.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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