Governor assassinated in Afghan mosque blast
KABUL // A massive bomb blast at a mosque in northern Afghanistan killed 15 people today, including a provincial governor who had survived a series of assassination attempts, officials said.
More than 20 people were wounded in the explosion during Friday prayers at the Shirkat mosque in Takhar province, said General Shah Jahan Noori, the provincial police chief. The governor of the neighboring Kunduz province, Mohammed Omar, was killed in the blast, General Noori said.
The Takhar governor, Abdul Jabar Taqwa, said the bomb was meant to kill Omar, who regularly attends Friday prayers at the mosque. "He was the target, and the terrorists were able to kill him," Mr Taqwa said. "This is a big loss for us because Mohammed Omar was a very brave and good governor." Omar had survived at least three previous assassination attempts, including ambushes and roadside bombs. In May 2009, he was slightly wounded by a roadside bomb along a main highway. Omar blamed the "enemies of peace and security".
In an interview on Afghan television last week, Omar said if security was not increased in Kunduz province, insurgents would not only be a threat to northern Afghanistan, but to neighbouring nations as well. Omar said his province was home to Afghan militants as well as foreign fighters. Kunduz was being used by insurgents to stage attacks throughout the region, he said. Afghan officials are prime targets for the Taliban and other militant groups that have instituted an assassination campaign against people who work with the Afghan government or Nato forces.
On September 28, a suicide bomber killed a deputy provincial governor and five others in Ghazni in eastern Afghanistan. The bomber rammed a motorised rickshaw loaded with explosives into a convoy taking deputy governor Khazim Allayar to his office in Ghazni city. His son, a nephew, a bodyguard and two civilians were also killed. Northern Takhar has been the scene of escalating violence amid intensified military operations by Nato and Afghan forces in recent days.
Sixteen militants were killed in air raids and ground fighting overnight Wednesday in the Darqad, Yangi Qala and Khwaja Bahawuddin districts of Takhar, General Noori said. More than a dozen insurgents were wounded. General Noori said his convoy was ambushed early Thursday and four attackers were killed in a gunbattle that lasted several hours. No Nato or Afghan forces were injured, he said.
Published: October 9, 2010 04:00 AM