Afghan intel deputy killed in suicide blast: "KABUL — A Taliban suicide bomber killed Afghanistan’s deputy chief of intelligence Wednesday during a visit to a mosque east of Kabul in an attack that left 22 others dead.The bombing, which occurred in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, struck at the heart of Afghanistan’s intelligence service and underscored the Taliban’s increasing ability to carry off complex and targeted assaults.
The explosion ripped through a crowd in Laghman province just as Abdullah Laghmani, deputy chief of Afghanistan’s National Directorate for Security, and other officials were leaving the main mosque in Mehterlam, 60 miles (100 kilometers) east of Kabul. Laghmani died at the scene, according to Sayed Ahmad Safi, the spokesman for the local governor.
A Taliban spokesman said a suicide bomber on foot targeted Laghmani, a key figure in Afghanistan’s security services. President Hamid Karzai and the United Nations condemned the attack.Laghmani was the former intelligence chief for Kandahar, a Taliban stronghold. In his most recent post, he directed intelligence operations, especially in eastern Afghanistan, and appointed local intelligence officials throughout the area.He was an ethnic Pashtun, along with nearly all the Taliban, but fought with a Tajik-led faction during the war against the Taliban that preceded the U.S.-led invasion of 2001.His death occurred as tensions rise in the wake of the divisive Aug. 20 presidential election. The country’s election commission said
Wednesday that Karzai had 47.3 percent of the vote and top challenger Abdullah Abdullah had 32.6 percent.Those figures were with votes counted from 60 percent of the country’s polling stations. Karzai needs 50 percent to avoid a two-man runoff.In the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, meanwhile, an official with Abdullah’s campaign warned supporters of the former foreign minister would take to the streets if there was any perception that election fraud was overlooked. Karzai is an ethnic Pashtun, while Abdullah is half Pashtun and half Tajik but is seen as the Tajik candidate.
Hundreds of serious allegations of fraud have been formally lodged since voting day, mostly involving ballot-box stuffing and voter intimidation. The country’s Electoral Complaints Commission said Wednesday the number of serious complaints from election day was 652, with the highest number coming from Baghlan, Kabul and Kandahar provinces.‘We are not talking too much because people are very angry and we don’t want to add to that, but Dr. Abdullah is meeting with foreign embassies and regional partners to try to find a solution,’ said Zalmai Younosi, Abdullah’s campaign chief in six northern provinces.‘After that, if there is no result, then it is protest and violence,’ he warned. ‘Yes, violence is bad for the country. ...‘When Russia occupied Afghanistan, we had to fight. When the Taliban came, we had to fight back. How can we accept a corrupt government funded by drugs and not respected by the world? We have to defend our own rights.
’The blast east of Kabul killed Laghmani, the executive director of Laghman’s governor’s office, the head of Laghman’s provincial council, two of Laghmani’s body guards, and 18 civilians, said Sayed Ahmad Safi, the spokesman for Laghman’s governor.‘It is indefensible that such an attack was carried out at a mosque during the holy month of Ramadan,’ said Peter W. Galbraith, the deputy U.N. chief here. ‘The contrast between the vast majority of Afghans who yearn for peace during this holy month and those who conducted this attack could not be more stark.’Karzai said in a statement the ‘enemy’ tried to kill ‘brave and hardworking’ officials, but others with those same traits would take their place.U.S. troops cordoned off the blast site, right outside Mehterlam’s main mosque, which sits in a crowded market area. Safi said Laghmani was visiting the mosque to discuss plans to rebuild it.Taliban suicide attacks frequently target high-ranking government officials.
Militants have warned Afghans for years not to work as government officials, teachers, or in the country’s armed forces.Taliban attacks have spiked the last three years and insurgents now control wide swaths of territory, momentum that forced President Barack Obama to send 21,000 additional troops to the country this year.U.S. military officials may soon ask for even more troops to be sent to the country, but
American public opinion is starting to turn against the almost eight-year war as U.S. troop deaths have reached an all-time high.The National Directorate for Security suffered a second attack in the country’s north. An intelligence officer kidnapped a few days ago by Taliban militants in Kunduz province was found Wednesday hanging from a tree on the outskirts of Baghlan city, said Kabi Andarabi, the provincial police chief.In other violence, four militants were killed overnight when a roadside bomb they were planting detonated, said Fazel Ahmad Sherzad, the deputy police chief of Kandahar.———Associated Press writers Douglas Birch in Kabul and Heidi Vogt in Mazar-i-Sharif contributed to this report."
(Via Air Force Times - News.)