Coalition kills Taliban's shadow governor in Afghanistan's Baghlan province
Coalition and Afghan forces killed the Taliban's shadow governor for the province of Baghlan, dealing yet another blow to the group's leadership network in the north.
Mullah Rohullah, the shadow governor for Baghlan, was killed after a joint Coalition and Afghan force called in "precision air strikes" against two vehicles transporting Taliban fighters in the Baghlan-i-Jadid district. Rohullah's convoy was identified by human "intelligence sources," the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release that highlighted his death.
The joint Coalition and Afghan ground force then engaged additional Taliban fighters "who were heavily armed with a heavy machine gun, multiple rocket propelled grenades, automatic rifles, hand-grenades, ammunition, and communications equipment." The Taliban fighters attacked the joint force, but were defeated. ISAF did not provide a total number of Taliban fighters killed in the engagement.
Rohullah was appointed the shadow governor for Baghlan in early May, Afghan officials told Pajwhok Afghan News. As shadow governor, Rohullah "was responsible for organizing and directing attacks against Coalition forces" and "was in constant contact with Kunduz and Pakistani Taliban senior leaders, providing updates and receiving guidance," ISAF stated.
Rohullah has been the target of Coalition and Afghan efforts to dismantle the top Taliban leadership network in the north. Afghan police had thought they killed Rohullah during a raid in Baghlan on May 20, but ISAF never confirmed the report.
The Taliban establish shadow or parallel governments in the regions they control or where the Afghan government is weak. These shadow governments fill the void by dispensing sharia justice; mediating tribal and land disputes; collecting taxes; and recruiting, arming, and training fighters.
The Taliban have established shadow governments throughout Afghanistan, with provincial and militarily leaders appointed to command activities. In January 2009, the Taliban claimed to be in control of more than 70 percent of Afghanistan's rural areas and to have established shadow governments in 31 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.
Over the past two years, the security situation in the northern provinces of Baghlan and neighboring Kunduz has deteriorated. The Taliban and allied terror groups maintain safe havens in Baghlan and Kunduz, and control large portions of the provinces. Two districts in Baghlan province - Baghlan-i-Jadid and Burka - are under the control of the Taliban. Of the seven districts in Kunduz province, only two are considered under government control; the rest of the districts - Chahara Dara, Dashti Archi, Ali Abab, Khan Abad, and Iman Sahib - are considered contested or under Taliban control, according to a map produced by Afghanistan's Interior Ministry in the spring of 2009 [see LWJ report, "Afghan forces and Taliban clash in Kunduz," and Threat Matrix report, "Afghanistan's wild-wild North"].
The Taliban's top leadership in the north has been hit hard over the past year, however. Afghan intelligence captured the shadow governor of Samangan province on May 20. Afghan officials claimed the shadow governor of Kunduz province was killed on April 26. Pakistani intelligence reportedly detained the shadow governors of Kunduz and Baghlan in February. And in September 2009, police detained the shadow governor of Bamyan province.