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Taliban forces kill women's advocate

Don’t expect to see this awful story out of Afghanistan to receive a lot of media attention (or action from this administration), as the Taliban fights to regain control, and roll back what precious few rights women have in the country through intimidation — and assassination.

Two gunmen on a motorbike killed the provincial director of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs outside her home Monday in apparent retribution for her efforts to help educate women, officials said.

Safia Ahmed-jan was slain outside the front gate of her home in this southern Afghan city as she was walking to her office, said Tawfiq ul-Ulhakim Parant, senior adviser to the women’s ministry in Kabul.

…Ahmed-jan was known for being an active proponent of women’s rights in this former Taliban stronghold, a region where insurgents have turned increasingly violent the last several months.

Her secretary said one of Ahmed-jan’s most successful projects was running trade schools. “She was always trying her best to improve education for women,” Abdullah Khan said.

In Kandahar alone, Ahmed-jan had opened six schools where almost 1,000 women learned how to bake and sell their goods at market. She had also opened tailoring schools for women, and clothes made there found their way to Western markets, Khan said.

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Meanwhile, in the political and military vat of quicksand called Iraq, confidence and success on the ground are clearly in short supply if this is what’s going down: Army mulls more Iraq combat units.

The U.S. Army is considering whether to add more combat units to the rotation plan to meet a top commander’s decision to keep more than 140,000 troops in the country until at least mid-2007, The Washington Times reported on Monday.

The Army also is considering accelerating the deployments for some brigades in a move to try to stop sectarian violence among Sunnis and Shi’ites in Baghdad, the newspaper reported, citing Pentagon officials.

“It may accelerate the pace of deployments or it may mean looking at calling up additional units,” a Pentagon official who asked not to be named told the newspaper.

Army Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command oversees the war, said last week that the United States is unlikely to begin cutting its forces in Iraq before the middle of next year.

He said the United States might even increase the size of its force from the current 147,000.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding