Taliban authorities in Afghanistan said Sunday unknown assailants shot dead a female former lawmaker alongside her bodyguard in her home in the capital, Kabul.
Mursal Nabizada, 32, had been elected as a member of the national parliament before the Islamist Taliban seized power from the internationally backed Afghan government in August 2021 as all U.S.-led NATO troops withdrew.
A Kabul police spokesman, Khalid Zadran, said that a brother of the slain parliamentarian was also injured in the attack, which took place early Sunday.
Zadran said a “serious” investigation into the incident was under way to apprehend and bring the killers to justice.
Nabizada’s relatives called on the Taliban administration to arrest the killers, saying she had no enemies.
“I heard the gunfire and when we went down, they (attackers) had left and my daughter was lying on the ground with blood on the bed alongside my son. The guard was also killed,” local TOLO TV channel quoted Nabizada’s mother as saying.
Nabizada’s assassination marks the first time a politician from the ousted government has been killed since the Taliban takeover in August 2021. She was among the few female politicians and civil society activists who decided against fleeing Afghanistan after the hardline group regained control of the country.
No group immediately claimed responsibility.
“A true trailblazer – a strong, outspoken woman who stood for what she believed in, even in the face of danger,” Mariam Solaimankhil, a former Afghan lawmaker, said on Twitter in response to the killing of her colleague.
“Despite being offered the chance to leave Afghanistan, she chose to stay and fight for her people. We have lost a diamond, but her legacy will live on. Rest in peace,” she wrote.
The Taliban have announced a general amnesty for all Afghans who were associated with the former U.S.-backed government. They reject as baseless allegations that their security forces have carried out targeted killings of some former Afghan officials who remained in the country.
The Taliban maintain that a special commission is working to encourage individuals who fled the country to return home to live peacefully under Taliban protection.
On Sunday, local media quoted a commission spokesman as saying that more than 470 political and former government figures have returned to Afghanistan from abroad since May 2022.
Western female parliamentarians took to Twitter to denounce Nabizada’s killing, accusing the Taliban rulers of being behind her death.
“I am sad and angry and want the world to know! She was killed in darkness, but the Taleban build their system of Gender Apartheid in full daylight,” tweeted Hannah Neumann, a member of the European Parliament.
Petra Bayr, a member of the Austrian parliament, called for punitive political action against the Taliban authorities.
“If a strong woman is killed by a misogynistic regime like the Taliban it is even more painful if you had the chance to get to know this woman, at least virtually,” Petra Bayr wrote on Twitter.
Nabizada was also a member of the parliamentary defense commission and worked for a private non-governmental group.
Afghan women made significant gains across the country’s male-dominated conservative society in the two decades since the United States and its Western allies invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and ousted the then-Taliban government for harboring the al-Qaida terrorist network.
In the years that followed the U.S.-led military intervention, women became judges, lawmakers, and journalists. Most of them fled Afghanistan after the return of the Taliban to power in 2021.
The men-only Taliban government has excluded women from nearly all aspects of public life. Women are required to cover their faces or wear the Islamic hijab. They have been banned from secondary and higher education, public sector work, nongovernmental organizations, and even from visiting public parks and baths.