Monday, March 17, 2008

Female Taliban, women warlords and bombers

Some time ago, various reporters profiled a woman warlord in Baghlan province of northern Afghanistan, one Bibi Ayesha, aka the Pigeon. (See photos of Baghlan here, here and here.) She was then in the process of resisting the UN-sponsored disarmament program after fighting the Taliban as a member of the Northern Alliance. The Pigeon, who claimed to have 150 men under her command, did however bend to conservative social mores, always having male accompaniment in battle. Her position, she explained, was inherited from her father, following the deaths of several brothers. (See the BBC and the Telegraph.)

In early December a woman in Pakistan, thought to be Afghan according to reports, blew herself up near a Pakistani military checkpoint (see BBC). Later in December, a woman on a suicide mission was arrested in Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, in eastern Afghanistan. (Reuters report here. See also this amazing set of vintage photographs of Jalalabad.) Meanwhile, female suicide bombers are old news in Iraq, such as one white European woman who carried out a suicide attack against US troops in Baquba in 2005 (see NYT here).

Now, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that an Afghan woman was killed fighting among Taliban fighters in Khost province.

Armed woman among several militants killed in Afghanistan

16 March 2008

KABUL (DPA) - An Afghan armed woman and several Taliban militants were killed by US-led coalition forces and seven more insurgents were killed by indigenous police forces, officials said on Sunday.

Coalition forces killed several militants including an armed woman during a search operation in Tani district of south-eastern province of Khost on Saturday, US military said in a statement on Sunday.

After the first round of engagement, in which several Taliban militants were killed, the combined forces identified an armed militant, who made “threatening gestures and presented an imminent threat,” the statement said.

“Coalition forces responded in self-defence, engaging and killing the armed individual,” it said, adding, “Coalition forces discovered the dead militant armed with an AK-47 assault rifle was a woman after the engagement.”

Two other militants were arrested by the combined forces, who told the joint forces that the armed woman was sent out to determine coalition forces’ locations.

This is the first armed Afghan woman to have been killed in military encounters since the fall of the Taliban regime in late 2001 in a US-led military invasion. ... (link)

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