Leading Afghan women's rights activist murdered while on her way to work

Afghan women raise banners during a march to protest violence against women in Kabul on September 24, 2012. Rashida Manjoo, the expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council with investigating and reporting on violence against women recently stated that “The failure of States to guarantee women’s rights to a life free from violence allows for a continuum of violence which can end in their death. " title="Afghanistan violence against women" itemProp="contentUrl" />

Afghan women raise banners during a march to protest violence against women in Kabul on September 24, 2012. Rashida Manjoo, the expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council with investigating and reporting on violence against women recently stated that “The failure of States to guarantee women’s rights to a life free from violence allows for a continuum of violence which can end in their death."

Women's rights official Nadia Sediqqi was gunned down on her way to work in eastern Afghanistan on Monday by unknown assailants, in an attack that highlights the special dangers Afghan female government workers face.

The Washington Post reported that Sediqqi was shot as she was getting into a rickshaw near her home in Eastern Laghman province, where she was head of women's affairs.

Sediqqi's predecessor in the position, Hanifa Safi, was murdered in July in a bombing that killed her husband and injured 11 others. Safi's repeated requests for police protection were ignored, said Reuters.

It's unknown yet if the killing was politically motivated, added the Washington Post, although an investigation has been launched into the attack.

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Reuters reported that many female Afghan government officials are forced to work without the protection of bodyguards, rendering them especially vulnerable to attacks by religious extremists and others who oppose women's presence in the workforce.

“This is not the first such incident — a number of Afghan women in public roles have been assassinated over the past 10 years," commented Amnesty International, in a report on the murder of Hanifa Safi. "The targeting and killing of civilians is an appalling act.”

The BBC reported that Nimroz police chief Gen. Mohammad Musa Rasuli was also killed by a roadside bomb Monday on his way home from Herat. It remains unknown who placed the bomb.