Afghan women's rights advocate, negotiator injured in attack

by Reuters
Saturday, 15 August 2020 08:26 GMT

FILE PHOTO: Fawzia Koofi speaks during an interview in Kabul April 12, 2012. Condemned to die shortly after birth for being a girl, outspoken lawmaker Koofi lived to become a champion of women's rights in Afghanistan. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

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The attack on Fawzia Koofi, a prominent women's rights advocate, is described as an assassination attempt

By Abdul Qadir Sediqi and Orooj Hakimi

KABUL, Aug 15 (Reuters) - A prominent women's rights advocate and member of the Afghan team tasked with negotiating with the Taliban sustained minor injuries in an attack in Kabul by unknown gunmen, officials said on Saturday.

They described the attack on Fawzia Koofi, a former lawmaker, as an assassination attempt. It was condemned by Afghanistan's president as well as senior politicians involved in the peace process.

"I strongly condemn the assassination attempt on Ms Fawzia Koofi and call upon the government to identify and apprehend the culprits and possible motive for the attack," Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said on Twitter.

A spokesman for the insurgent Taliban denied any involvement.

Koofi could not immediately be reached for comment, but a post on her Facebook page said her right arm was injured but, "Thankfully not a life-threatening injury!"

A government-mandated team is set to start long-awaited peace negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar's capital Doha in coming days once a prisoner release process is complete.

The United States has been attempting to broker peace talks to end more than 18 years of war after signing a troop withdrawal deal with the militant group in February.

Many have concerns about the protection of women's rights throughout the process. During their 1996-2001 rule, the Taliban banned women from education or leaving the house without a male relative.

Koofi is a staunch advocate of women's and girls' rights, starting her public career in 2001 shortly after the ouster of the Taliban by campaigning for girls' education.

Human rights officials have raised concerns in recent months about senior civil society members being targeted in attacks.

Shaharzad Akbar, head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, said there is a "worrying pattern of targeted attacks that can negatively impact confidence in peace process."

(Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi and Orooj Hakimi; Writing by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by William Mallard)