The List: The Political Assassinations of 2006
The shooting death of Lebanese Minister Pierre Gemayel and the poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko were the most prominent political murders of 2006. But, as this week’s List shows, their assassinations aren’t the only ones setting off political crises and stoking intrigue.
Who: Safia Ama Jan, director of Afghanistans Ministry of Womens Affairs for the Kandahar Province
When: The 63-year-old former teacher, who ran underground schools for girls during the Talibans reign, was gunned down in front of her home on Sept. 25, 2006.
Why: Jans murder came during a particularly restive season of increased attacks by Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan. Her advocacy for womens rights and educationnearly 1,000 women in Kandahar attended her vocational schools in recent yearsmade her a prime target for insurgents intent on derailing any progress by Afghan women since the fall of the Taliban five years ago.
Who: Hakim Taniwal, governor of Afghanistans southeastern Paktia Province, the highest-ranking official to be killed since the Taliban began its 2005 insurgency.
When: Taniwal, 63 and a close friend of President Hamid Karzai, was killed along with two staff members by a suicide bomber outside the governors office on Sept. 10, 2006.
Why: The former university professors death was part of a concerted effort by Taliban militants to target high-ranking Afghan officials. Two other governors and a member of parliament had earlier escaped similar attacks. At Taniwals funeral, another suicide bomber struck, killing several people at the service.
Who: Ayodeji Daramola, leading candidate for governor in the southwestern state of Ekiti
When: The 53-year-old World Bank consultant was murdered in his bedroom in Ijan-Ekiti on Aug. 14, 2006, shortly after returning home from a political rally.
Why: With elections set for April 2007, term limits are putting many governorships in Nigeria up for grabs, and fierce political rivalriesparticularly between those vying for a place in strongman President Olusegun Obasanjos partyare at a violent peak.
Who: Funsho Williams, a candidate for governor of Lagos
When: The 58-year-old Williams was found stabbed and strangled in his Lagos home on July 27, 2006.
Why: Like Daramola, Williams belonged to the presidents governing Peoples Democratic Party, and he was looking to gain control of the critical Lagos state, the countrys wealthiest, from the opposition. A rival candidate has been arrested in connection with the murder, but so have Williamss campaign manager, maid, and guards.
Who: Andrei Kozlov, deputy chairman of Russias Central Bank, known for his efforts to increase transparency in the banking sector
When: The 41-year-old Kozlov was gunned down along with his driver in an apparent contract hit outside a Moscow soccer stadium on Sept. 13, 2006. He was the highest-ranking civil servant murdered since President Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000 vowing to clean up Russias bloody, Wild East days of the 1990s.
Why: The well-respected banker had pushed through impressive reforms of Russias financial sector, withdrawing the licenses of hundreds of banks found to be involved in money laundering.
Who: Anna Politkovskaya, a pioneering journalist known for her critical coverage of the war in Chechnya and Putins increasing power in Russia
When: The 48-year-old Politkovskaya was shot to death in an apparent contract killing in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building on Oct. 7, 2006.
Why: Despite being a savage critic of the Kremlin and one of the most prominent journalists in Russia, Putin remarked three days after her murder that Politkovskaya had no influence on political life in the country. A former KGB spy investigating her death, Alexander Litvinenko, made headlines around the world when he died last week from radioactive poisoning in London. Theories on Politkovskayas death generally fall into two camps: that she was murdered as retribution for her writing on Chechnya, or by enemies of Putin who knew her death would feed conspiracy theories at home and abroad about the Kremlins strong-arm tactics.
Who: Maj. Gen. Parami Kulatunga, the chief of staff of the Sri Lankan Army
When: A suicide bomber on motorcycle killed the 54-year-old Kulatunga as he traveled to a military camp on the outskirts of Colombo on June 26, 2006.
Why: The military pinned blame on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who have waged a nearly 25-year struggle for independence from the government. Tensions have risen steadily since Kulatungas killing, which, according to a pro-rebel Web site, was inspired by increased military attacks on rebel leaders. This week, the leader of the Tamil Tigers said the truce with the military, negotiated in 2002, was defunct.
Who: Kethesh Loganathan, human rights advocate and deputy head of the government peace secretariat
When: Loganathan, 54, was killed by gunmen outside his home in Colombo on Aug. 12, 2006.
Why: The Tamil moderate was a vociferous critic of the Tamil Tigers, a dissenting voice for whom the rebel group had traditionally shown little patience. A former member of a rival Tamil militant group, Loganathan had long condemned the Tigers tactics and human rights record.
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