UPDATE: Five men have been arrested in connection with the shooting death of Lt. Negar. No other details have been made public at this point.
Sub-inspector Lt. Negar of the police criminal investigation department in Helmand, a troubled and conservative southern province of Afghanistan, died in the hospital Monday morning after being shot by an unidentified gunman on a motorcycle the day before. Negar, the most senior woman police officer in the province, is yet another victim in the tragic chain of violence targeted at prominent women in Afghanistan. Lt. Negar took over after her predecessor, Islam Bibi, was shot and killed in July by an unidentified gunman.
Although the Taliban has not claimed responsibility for the attack, another policewoman in the area has made a statement that extremists “have given us warning that one of us will be killed every three months and we will be killed one by one.”
Javid Faisal, spokesman for the Kandahar government, said of Negar, “She was considered the most effective female police commander in the province, and she believed her duty was the most crucial and most important for women in Helmand province.”
Police officers in Afghanistan face dual threats from the Taliban and local drug traders, making an already difficult job more dangerous; an estimated 200 police officers are killed each month. Women currently make up fewer than 1 percent of Afghan police, with nearly 1,600 policewomen serving and only about 200 more in training, which is not surprising considering the rate at which women are becoming the target of extremist violence. “Insurgents and extremists are against the women rights and women’s independence in the country,” said Faisal.
There has been a string of violent attacks against high profile women in the past few months. Just after the murder of Lt. Negar’s predecessor Bibi in July, the Taliban held a female member of parliament hostage for four weeks. That same month, an armed group attacked a female Afghan senator, leaving her wounded and killing her eight-year-old daughter.
According to BBC, “Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission says general violence against women has increased sharply over the last two years, and donor nations have expressed fears that advances in women’s rights could be at risk when NATO-led troops withdraw next year.”