Deshakalyan Chowdhury / AFP - Getty Images
Author Sushmita Banerjee, seen here in 2003, fled Afghanistan in 1995 and only recently returned to be with her husband.
KABUL, Afghanistan - Author Sushmita Banerjee, whose dramatic memoirs about marrying an Afghan man and escaping the Taliban were turned into a Bollywood movie, was shot dead outside her home on Thursday.
Shah Wali, head of the Afghan Police Criminal Investigation Department for the eastern province of Paktika, blamed the Taliban for the killing.
Wali said that militants came to the Indian-born author’s home, tied up her husband and other family members, then took Banerjee outside and shot her repeatedly.
Dawlat Khan, chief of the local police, said that over 20 rounds were fired into her body, concentrated mostly in the head. Early reports indicated her attackers disposed of her body at a nearby madrassa.
Banerjee, 49, had been an outspoken critic of the Taliban. She wrote "A Kabuliwala's Bengali Wife,” which chronicled her daring marriage to an Afghan businessman and her struggles during Taliban rule in the 1990s.
The book was a best-seller in India, before being turned into the Bollywood movie "Escape From The Taliban" in 2003.
Fearing for her life, she fled Afghanistan in 1995 and only recently returned to be with her husband, Jaanbaz Khan.
News of her death rocked her community in the provincial capital city of Kharana, where she worked as a health care provider. One neighbor, Sayeed Kamal, described her as "very helpful to our women", adding that she had converted to Islam.
In accordance with Muslim religious tradition, Banerjee was buried immediately after Thursday’s attack.
Several prominent women have been the target of violence in Afghanistan in recent weeks. Female senator Roh Gul Khairzad and her husband were injured and their daughter killed in a highway ambush in Ghazni province.
A separate kidnapping incident involving female lawmaker Fariba Ahmadi Kakar and her three young children occurred days later, during the Muslim holiday of Eid.
Taliban officials did not respond to requests for comment but Zabiullah Mujahid, spokesman for the east and north of Afghanistan, told local media: ''We checked with our local Taliban fighters in the area and they also heard the reports and allegations that the Taliban were behind the assassination of this woman who had converted to Islam. But this is the enemy's propaganda that is blaming us for killing a woman.''
NBC News' Akbar Shinwari contributed to this report.
First published September 6 2013, 1:58 AM