The head of the Women's Affairs Department in the eastern Afghan province of Laghman was shot to death on her way to work, a government spokesman told Efe on Monday.

Najia Seddiqi died in the area of Deh Mazoz, which is adjacent to the city of Mehtarlam - capital of Laghman - when several as yet unidentified armed men attacked her, provincial spokesman Sarhadi Zowak said.

Efe was unable to contact a spokesman for the Taliban to confirm whether or not it was gunmen from that group who killed Seddiqi.

The situation of women was particularly harsh in the South Asian country during the Taliban regime, which dominated Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

They were forced to wear burkas and prohibited from holding a job, studying or going out on the street unless they were accompanied by a male relative. EFE