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Page last updated at 11:04 GMT, Sunday, 28 September 2008 12:04 UK

Top Afghan policewoman shot dead

Malalai Kakar
Malalai Kakar was not allowed to work as a police officer under the Taleban

Gunmen in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar have killed the country's most prominent policewoman, officials say.

Lt-Col Malalai Kakar, head of Kandahar's department of crimes against women, was shot in her car as she was about to leave for work.

Her son was also wounded in the attack, and is said to be seriously injured.

Taleban rebels, who banned women from joining the police when they were in power, said they had carried out the shooting.

"We killed Malalai Kakar," a Taleban spokesman told AFP news agency.

"She was our target, and we successfully eliminated our target."

The BBC's Martin Patience in Kabul says Ms Kakar was one of only a few hundred female police officers in Afghanistan and that she had previously received death threats.

Prominent

Ms Kakar, who was reported to be in her early 40s and had six children, was one of the most high-profile women in the country.

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She has figured prominently in the national and international media, partly due to a famous episode in which she killed three would-be assassins in a shoot-out - although she said her everyday life involved tackling theft, fights and murders.

Ms Kakar joined Kandahar's police force in 1982, after her father and brothers were also police officers.

But when the hard-line Taleban regime took over Afghanistan she was prevented from working.

Working in the police force in Afghanistan has become an increasingly dangerous occupation, says our correspondent.

According to the Ministry of Interior, more than 700 police officers were killed in the first six months of 2008.

The majority of the casualties were killed in suicide attacks and roadside bombings.

In June, another woman police officer was gunned down in Herat province in a killing believed to have been the first of its kind.

Kandahar is a key battleground of the Taleban insurgency, where Afghan and foreign troops are fighting the rebels.




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