An Afghan Mayor Expected to Die. Instead, She Lost Her Father.

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An Afghan Mayor Expected to Die. Instead, She Lost Her Father.


Her father, 53, was a commander in the Special Operations Corps, a high-profile job in a unit that was especially loathed by the Taliban because of its effectiveness. Military officials had warned Mr. Ghafari that he was being targeted because of his daughter, Ms. Ghafari said, adding that he had served for years in the military and survived unscathed.

Ms. Ghafari is used to setbacks and even attacks — she was nearly killed in an assassination attempt last month — but never anything as damaging as the loss of her father, which she believes was because of her.

“He had my back,” she said. Without him, she added, she would not have been able to endure the death threats or the constant harassment she has received from her own constituents for being a woman.

Men with sticks and rocks mobbed Ms. Ghafari’s office on her first day in office in the summer of 2018, after she was appointed by President Ashraf Ghani. Whisked away by Afghan security forces for her safety, she was only able to return nine months later and assume her post — this time for good. She soon started implementing public works projects, such as road repairs, and a campaign to clean up the city.

Her father’s death comes on the heels of a particularly bloody week in Kabul. Less than a week earlier, a military prosecutor was assassinated by unknown gunmen. And on Monday, self-proclaimed members of the Islamic State killed at least 22 people, most of them students, at Kabul University, Afghanistan’s largest academic institution, sending the capital into newfound depths of despair.

Targeted killings, in the form of point-blank shootings and magnetic bombs, have roiled Kabul in recent months, causing a public outcry. The Taliban have refused to claim credit for the attacks, but they have used them for propaganda purposes, pointing to the government’s inability to keep the capital safe as a sign of its weakness.

Since reaching an agreement with the United States in February that prompted the start of an American troop withdrawal and the beginning of peace talks with Afghan officials, the Taliban have abandoned high-profile attacks in urban areas in favor of assassinations, officials and experts have said.





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