Conflict & Justice

Taliban suicide bomber kills high-ranking officials in Afghanistan (VIDEO)

A suicide bomber killed at least six people at a gathering Saturday of NATO and Afghan officials in a provincial governor's compound in Takhar, in the north of Afghanistan. The police commander for northern Afghanistan, Gen. Mohammed Daud Daud, a former anti-Taliban Northern Alliance military commander, was among those killed. A top NATO commander was wounded, CNN reported:

Maj. Gen. Markus Kneip, a veteran German office and the regional head of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force across nine provinces of northern Afghanistan, is in stable condition after suffering non-life threatening injuries, a German general said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said, "killing high-ranking officials will continue," the Guardian reported.

The attack took place around 4 in the afternoon at a security meeting in the governor's office in Takhar. The suicide bomber was waiting in the corridor, dressed as an Afghan policeman. The blast killed at least four Afghans -- including Daud; the Takhar provincial police chief, Shah Jan Noori; and the governor’s secretary -- and wounded a number of other people, including the provincial governor, Abdul Jabar Taqwa. Two German troops with Kneip were also killed, the Washington Post reported.

The bombing capped a bloody 48 hours in which seven Americans, two British and two other NATO servicemen were killed by roadside bombs or by insurgents in the south of the country. This month, 44 NATO soldiers have been killed, the Guardian said.

Targeting high profile figures has long been an aim of the insurgents, and Daud's death represents a "propaganda victory" for the Taliban, CNN said.

Daud, an anti-Soviet and anti-Taliban resistance commander, may have been the primary target of the bombing, the Guardian said. During the Soviet occupation, he was an aide to the Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, the national hero who was killed in Takhar two days before Sept. 11, 2001. Daud served as deputy interior minister for counter-narcotics affairs before being appointed police chief of the north.

According to the Washington Post, security in northern Afghanistan has deteriorated as insurgents moved outside of their traditional areas in the south and east of the country. Insurgents killed the Kandahar police chief last month inside his headquarters, and the governor of Kunduz was killed in a mosque bombing last October.

Takhar is not natural Taliban country. It was the last holdout when the fundamentalists swept the country beginning in 1996. Taloqan, the capital, did not fall until September of 2000. The province also sheltered the remnants of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance under Massoud. But earlier this month, a night raid by international forces led to protests in Takhar that turned violent after a crowd angry at the deaths of civilians turned into a mob. At least 12 people died and more than 65 were injured.