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Afghan Women's Rights Advocate Survives Suicide Bombing Attack in Kabul

Shukria Barakzai, a celebrated lawmaker who ran a secret school for women under Taliban rule, survived an assassination attempt that killed three people and injured 22 others.
November 16, 2014, 9:39pm
Photo by Rahmat Gul/AP

A suicide bomber tried and failed to kill celebrated Afghan lawmaker Shukria Barakzai in an attack Sunday in Kabul. Three people were killed and 22 injured in the blast, but Barakzai, a prominent women's rights advocate and journalist, walked away with only minor injuries.

The 42-year-old Barakzai was driving to work at around 10:15am on Sunday when an assailant wearing a suicide vest slammed his car into her armored silver sport utility vehicle and detonated the explosives, according to the Associated Press.


Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said a young girl was among the bystanders killed by the explosion. Sediqqi also said Barakzai's driver was injured.

Video of the aftermath of the bombing shows the parliamentarian calmly exiting her SUV carrying her cell phone and two handbags, apparently unscathed. She was later taken to a hospital, where she told Reuters from her bed that she "survived because of my people's prayers."

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Footage from 1TV of aftermath of suicide bombing.

Barakzai has previously spoken publicly about running a secret school for women under Taliban rule, and being flogged by religious police. These experiences, she said, strengthened her resolve to further women's rights in the conservative Muslim country.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, denied the group was responsible for the attack Sunday, the Guardian reported. The insurgent group attempted to carry out a similar assassination last week on Kabul's chief of police, Gen. Mohammad Zahir Zahir.

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Graphic TOLOnews footage of the attack.

Afghanistan's US-backed President Ashraf Ghani, who is closely allied with Barakzai, condemned the suicide attack Sunday. Ghani, who took office in September after a lengthy electoral dispute that led to the formation of a coalition government, appointed Barakzai to a team tasked with helping him choose a new cabinet. Barakzai is slated by some to become Ghani's next minister of education or women's affairs.

The bombing further heightens security concerns as most foreign troops prepare to withdraw from the war-torn country by the end of the year.

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Follow Liz Fields on Twitter:@lianzifields