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Taliban Attack Kills Young U.S. Foreign Service Officer Anne Smedinghoff
Anne Smedinghoff, a 25-year-old U.S. Foreign Service Officer, was killed along with three U.S. soldiers and a Defense Department employee on Saturday, April 6 in the southern Afghan province of Zabul. Smedinghoff and the other Americans were on a mission to donate books to Afghan students when their convoy was attacked by a Taliban suicide car bomber.
During her tour of duty in Afghanistan, Smedinghoff often worked with schools and businesses to improve the lives of young Afghans, especially girls. Secretary of State John Kerry, who met Smedinghoff on his recent visit to Afghanistan, remembered her as a "vivacious, smart, capable" young woman marked by her capacity to lead. She was a "brave American," he said, one who believed in the "possibilities of diplomacy, of changing people's lives, of making a difference, [and] having an impact." Smedinghoff and other committed U.S. Foreign Service Officers dedicate their lives to improve the lives of others and to promote rights and freedom in the countries where they serve. Anne Smedinghoff died in her efforts to expand opportunity for children in Afghanistan, and she will not be forgotten.
Soon after Saturday’s attack, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi claimed responsibility, saying that the bomber was seeking to target either a coalition convoy or the provincial governor. This attack, the deadliest for Americans this year, follows one of the worst Taliban attacks since the beginning of the war, which occurred on April 3 when Taliban attackers dressed as Afghan soldiers stormed a government compound in Farah province, killing 44 civilians and wounding 100 others who were waiting in a local court. Kerry decried the Taliban's motives and tactics, saying, "The folks who want to kill people, and that is all they want to do, are scared of knowledge; and they want to shut the doors and they don't want people to make choices about their future.”"
Under Taliban control in Afghanistan, women and children were denied basic human rights, and threatened and killed if they or their family members chose to pursue those rights. Young girls seeking to attend school faced death or torture, and women working to provide vital income to their families shot and killed. After the fall of the Taliban in 2002, a door was opened to reestablish rights and opportunity for women and girls in Afghanistan. With the support of the international community, great strides have been made by women and for women in the areas of health, security, education, and economic opportunity.
As Afghanistan prepares for the withdrawal of U.S and NATO troops in 2014, the government of Afghanistan, its civil society and private sector must work with the support of the U.S and international community to reestablish their country on the principles of freedom, opportunity and equality. The Bush Center will continue to highlight those individuals and organizations that seek to continue to move Afghanistan forward and who look to protect, promote and empower women and girls in that country.
What’s Happening in Afghanistan?
While there have been tremendous gains in Afghanistan, lack of security threatens these gains daily.
Q&A with Dr. Nilofar Ibrahimi, Member of Parliament, Afghanistan
Dr. Nilofar Ibrahimi is a member of the national assembly of Afghanistan. She represents Badakhshan province in the Wolesi Jirga (house of representatives). Her story is one of survival, pursuit of dreams, and dedication to women’s well-being and health. Here, Dr. Ibrahimi shares her thoughts on the current state of Afghan women’s empowerment, the challenges women face in achieving equal rights, and the impact women have on the country’s long-term peace, security, and prosperity.
In Case You Missed It: The Breadwinner, an animated film about the strength and resilience of Afghan women and girls, premieres in the U.S.
The Breadwinner, a new animated film from executive producer Angelina Jolie, tells the story of Parvana, an 11-year-old girl growing up under the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. When her father is wrongfully arrested, Parvana disguises herself as a boy in order to support her family. With dauntless perseverance, Parvana draws strength from the stories her father told her, and ultimately risks her life to discover if he is still alive. The Breadwinner is an inspiring reminder of the power of stories, and their potential to unite and heal us all. It also provides an important spotlight on the struggle endured by Afghan families during the Taliban regime and the resilience of women and girls and their influence in building a brighter future for Afghanistan. Last year, the Bush Institute released We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope, which spotlights more of these courageous stories of Afghan women. Learn more about the book and our work by visiting:&nb