A Taliban suicide bomber killed a district governor who has been instrumental in getting local Taliban groups to reconcile with the government in the southern province of Kandahar.
Sayed Fazuldin Agha, the governor of Kandahar’s Panjwai district, was killed today along with two of his sons and two bodyguards when a Taliban suicide bomber crashed his explosives-laden car into Agha’s vehicle, the BBC reported. Nine policemen and one civilian were also wounded in the deadly blast.
The Taliban claimed credit for Agha’s death on their website, Voice of Jihad, and said he had been watched closely before he was killed.
“He was also considered a very close partner of US invaders who always tried to create rifts amongst Mujahideen and now faced his punishment after a long period of surveillance,” the Taliban statement said.
The Taliban have tried to assassinate Agha several times in the past, but had failed to kill him until today.
Agha has been credited with taking scores of low-level Taliban fighters off the battlefield. Last year, he was instrumental in getting Maulawi Noorul Azizi and 50 of his fighters to reconcile with the government. Azizi had served as the Taliban’s shadow governor from Kunduz before returning to the south to lead operations against Coalition and Afghan forces.
Agha’s assassination took place just one day after a Taliban suicide bomber attempted to kill Kandahar Police Chief Abdul Razziq, who has led multiple military operations against the Taliban. The suicide bomber penetrated security at Razziq’s compound but failed to hit his target.
Agha is the latest senior Afghan official killed in the Taliban’s nationwide assassination program. There were two such assassinations last month. On Dec. 14, the Taliban killed Massoud Khan, the district governor of Khaneshin in Helmand. Khan’s uncle is the governor of Nimroz province. And on Dec. 25, a suicide bomber killed Alhaj Mutalib Baig, a member of parliament for Takhar province.
Dozens of senior Afghan officials were killed last year. The most high-profile assassination occurred in Kabul, when a suicide bomber detonated explosives hidden in his turban and killed Burhanuddin Rabbani on Sept. 20, 2011. Rabbani was the leader of the Afghan High Peace Council, which has been established to negotiate with the Taliban, and also was the head of the Jamiat-e-Islami political party.