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Top Afghan female police officer dies after gun attack

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Afghan female police officers undergo training in Herat province on December 8, 2011. The top female police officer in restive Helmand province has died a day after being attacked.AFP/File

The top female police officer in Afghanistan's restive Helmand province died on Monday, officials said, a day after she was shot, in an attack that followed the recent killing of her predecessor.

Both women were gunned down on the streets of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand, by unknown assassins in murders that underlined the grave threat to women who take on public roles in Afghanistan.

"I can confirm that Nigar died in the emergency unit of the hospital this morning," provincial government spokesman Omar Zawak told AFP. "She died from a bad injury to her neck."

Nigar, who like many Afghans used only one name, was earlier expected to survive after she was shot on Sunday morning by gunmen who escaped by motorbike.

Nigar, 38, had worked for seven years in the police crime branch in Helmand province, a hotbed of the Islamist insurgency that was launched against the US-backed Kabul government after the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

She was the mother of a son and a daughter and was based at Lashkar Gah airport after reaching the rank of investigator.

The last senior police woman in Helmand, Lieutenant Bibi Islam, was seen as a high-profile symbol of how opportunities for women have improved in Afghanistan since the repressive Taliban regime was ousted.

But before her death, she admitted receiving regular death threats from people who disapproved of her career -- including from her own brother.