In an attack claimed by the Taliban, two gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed Afghanistan's most high-profile female police officer as she prepared to leave for work in the southern city of Kandahar. The police in the city said she died instantly from gunshot wounds to her head. Her 18-year-old son, driving her car, was seriously wounded and taken to the hospital. The police officer, Malalai Kakar, who was in her mid-40s with six children, was an iconic figure among women's groups in Afghanistan and abroad. Often profiled in the Afghan and foreign news media, she was one of the leading totems for the wider freedoms gained by women when the Taliban, with their repressive policies toward women, were ousted from power by an American-led coalition in 2001. The attack was the latest in a wave of attacks on women across Afghanistan for which the Taliban have claimed responsibility. After scattering in the wake of the 2001 offensive, the Islamic militants have regrouped over the past two years. "We killed Malalai Kakar," a Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, told the news service Agence France-Presse in a telephone call.