PULI ALAM, AFGHANISTAN // A bomb hidden in a microphone killed an Afghan provincial governor yesterday as he made a speech at a mosque after Eid prayers.
Arsala Jamal was appointed by the president Hamid Karzai, like all 34 provincial governors, and he was seen as a close ally of the president, who will leave office next year.
“The governor wanted to speak and congratulate everyone on the occasion of Eid. At least 18 other people have been wounded, including civilians and government employees,” the Logar provincial governor spokesman Din Mohammad Darwish said.
Jamal only took up the Logar job in April after serving as governor of Khost, on the border with Pakistan.
Logar, which lies to the south of the Afghan capital, is seen as a strategic region, often described as a “gateway to Kabul” for Taliban militants based in strongholds across the south and east.
No group claimed responsibility for the blast, though Taliban militants often target provincial government officials as well as Afghan soldiers and police.
Mohammad Jan Abid, the head of the criminal investigative department in Logar, said an investigation would be launched.
Security in Logar has deteriorated in recent years with the Taliban holding sway in some areas despite sustained Afghan and US military pressure.
The Taliban have vowed to step up attacks as Afghanistan prepares for presidential elections in April and the withdrawal of 87,000 Nato troops by the end of next year.
Taliban chief Mullah Omar on Sunday said he “rejected” the elections, which he alleged were being manipulated by foreign powers, and called on Afghans not to participate.
The Taliban regime was driven from power by a US-led coalition in 2001 for sheltering the Al Qaeda leaders behind the September 11 attacks.
The US and Afghanistan are currently in the last stages of talks on a Bilateral Security Agreement that would see several thousand US troops remain in the country to aid stability and continue training of Afghan security forces.
Omar warned any US bases remaining on Afghan soil “will never be accepted” and that “armed jihad will continue against them with more momentum”.
* Agence France-Presse