An Afghan-American woman who used to work for the US army was shot dead by a mullah in a residential area of Kabul on Sunday night, according to officials.
Lisa Akbari, a dual Afghan-American citizen, had an Afghan father and grew up in the US.
She first worked in Afghanistan in 2009 with the US army as a human terrain team analyst, engaging with local women on patrols in some of Afghanistan’s most dangerous areas to help the US military better understand communities and earn their trust.
She later worked with World Vision and continued her efforts with Afghan women with other NGOs in Afghanistan, including with women’s shelters.
Lisa Akbari, a dual Afghan-American citizen was killed in Kabul.
Ms Akbari was killed at around 8pm on Sunday night by a mullah inside a gym in the Kart-e-Char area of Kabul, according to Colonel Faridoon Obaidy, head of the Kabul police criminal investigation department.
Col Obaidy confirmed the mullah was arrested close to the scene.
The suspect resisted arrest and was injured, he said, while a security official said a police officer opened fire and seriously wounded the man.
Due to the suspect’s injuries, police did not yet know the motive behind the killing, said Col Obaidy. “We will start the investigation as soon as he has recovered,” he added.
Local sources said that evidence later found in the suspect’s home suggested he may have links with extremist groups. Police declined to confirm these reports, saying the investigation continued.
Local news outlets suggested the gym may have been in the same building where she lived.
Unlike many foreigners in Kabul that reside behind large concrete blast walls and armed guards, Ms Akbari lived in a low-profile apartment building, without major security infrastructure, where other Afghan families resided.
A US official at the embassy in Kabul confirmed her death and passed on condolences, but declined to give further details, according to NBC News.
Friends and family paid tribute to Ms Akbari on Facebook on Monday, calling her a “beautiful soul” and “brave and bold”.
“R.I.P. to my beautiful older sister Lisa,” wrote her sister, Mayana Aliah Akbari. “You were taken soon and very suddenly while in Afghanistan…I know God got back his Angel and is proud of you for all that you've done on Earth.”
Ms Akbari avoided telling people about her previous roles with the US army, according to one of her friends. But if someone with extremist links had discovered she previously worked with the US army, that could have made her vulnerable to attack, they said.
Although the motive behind the attack against Ms Akbar is unknown, Afghans who are known to have worked for the US army also regularly face threats from the Taliban.
The UN, embassies and a number of foreign NGOs in Kabul have stepped up security measures in recent months, concerned about the heightened possibility of attacks.
On 30 November, the US embassy in Kabul issued a statement warning US citizens to exercise “extreme caution” if moving around Kabul. On December 11, the Taliban hit the Spanish embassy in Kabul in a complex attack, killing two Spanish security officers and four Afghans.