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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Suicide Bomber Attacks Car of Afghan Women’s Rights Leader; 3 Killed......

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber attacked the car of a prominent Afghan women’s rights leader and member of Parliament in Kabul on Sunday, killing three people and wounding 20 others, Afghan officials said.
The apparent target of the attack was Shukria Barakzai, an outspoken legislator and women’s rights advocate who was wounded in the blast, said a deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Najeeb Danish. Video footage posted online by an Afghan television station showed Ms. Barakzai emerging from the back seat of her armored vehicle after the blast and walking away unaided.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid, reached by telephone, said he did not know if Taliban insurgents carried out the attack, but was checking to find out.
A strong supporter of President Ashraf Ghani, Ms. Barakzai has been widely talked about as a likely candidate to join his government as the next women’s minister, or as an adviser on women’s affairs to the president.During the Taliban era, Ms. Barakzai, 42, helped run underground schools for girls. She had enemies on many sides, including powerful warlords. She famously remarked of her fellow legislators, “Our Parliament is a collection of lords. Warlords, drug lords, crime lords.” Her husband, an unsuccessful candidate for Parliament, took a second wife without consulting her. Ms. Barakzai remained married to him, but began campaigning against the practice of multiple wives for Afghan men.
Ms. Barakzai was in her car on Darulaman Road heading to work Sunday morning, along with aides and family members, when the bomber, wearing a suicide vest, approached and detonated his explosives, according to Mr. Danish, the Interior Ministry spokesman. None of her family members were killed or wounded, he said.
In an interview with The New York Times in September, Ms. Barakzai said that President Ghani would bring ambitious overhauls and a sense of bracing change, in contrast with what she described as the compromises and cronyism that had weakened his predecessor, President Hamid Karzai.
“He’s a soft constructive dictator,” she said, referring to Mr. Ghani. “I like it. This has been missing too long.”
A former journalist, Ms. Barakzai said that Mr. Ghani had agreed in principle to the establishment of a gender advisory board — something President Karzai had resisted for years. But she also worried that Western governments, seeking to stabilize the fragile national government, would pressure Mr. Ghani to go easy on the warlords she had often railed against.
“I hope the international community will not force their sweethearts on us,” she said. “They can’t force bad guys on the government and then ask for reform.”