North Afghan police chief killed in suicide blast

The police chief of northern Afghanistan and three German soldiers were among seven people killed in a suicide bombing at the Takhar governor’s office on Saturday, an official said.

“Seven people were killed and nine wounded,” Faiz Mohammed Tawhidi, spokesperson for the governor of Takhar province, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“Three German soldiers and four Afghans, including General Mohammed Daoud Daoud, as well as the chief of police [for Takhar province] were among the dead,” he said.

Qutbuddin Kamal, a senior aide to provincial governor Abdul Jabar Taqwa, confirmed that General Daoud and the provincial police chief had been killed, adding that the governor was wounded.

“There was a meeting about security at the complex where the governor’s office is,” he said.

“At the end of the meeting, when we wanted to leave, a suicide bomber waiting in the corridor blew himself up.”

Daoud was a key figure in Afghanistan’s recent history, a former military commander of Ahmad Shah Massoud’s Northern Alliance who oversaw the siege of Kunduz, the final major battle of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Earlier, he had been part of the Afghan mujahedin fighting against occupying Soviet troops.

Taliban involvement
A former deputy interior minister, when Daoud was the top counter-narcotics official in Afghanistan, he accused the Taliban of profiting from the opium trade by forging an alliance with drug smugglers and taxing farmers.

He also served at one point as governor of Takhar, reportedly at the request of the British, who considered him the country’s cleanest governor.

The Taliban, which has been fighting an insurgency against the government in Kabul and its Western allies since it was ousted from power in 2001, claimed responsibility for the attack.

“One of our mujahedin carried out the attack inside the Takhar governor’s complex during a meeting about security,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, told AFP.

“Most [of the participants] were killed, including General Daoud Daoud, who was chairing the meeting, the chief of police [for Takhar province]” and German and American soldiers, he said.

The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed that it had troops among the victims, but a spokesperson did not specify their nationality or whether they had been killed or wounded.

Daoud’s killing comes two months before international troops are due to start handing over control of security to local forces and withdraw from the country, a process that is due to be completed by 2014.

This month’s killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by US troops in Pakistan has led to calls for this process to be speeded up.

There are currently around 130 000 international troops, around two-thirds from the United States, stationed in Afghanistan.

Northern Afghanistan is normally a relatively quiet part of the insurgency-wracked country, although earlier this month 12 people were killed when police opened fire on 2 000 demonstrators protesting against a Nato raid. — AFP

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