A Taliban suicide bomber posing as a peace envoy detonated his explosives today as Asadullah Khalid, the chief of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, was welcoming visitors at an NDS guesthouse in Kabul.
NDS spokesman Shafiqullah Tahiri said that “[t]he bomber was a peace messenger sent by the Taliban to the Afghan government” for a meeting that afternoon, according to Reuters. The spokesman also said the Afghan spy chief is in “good” condition after surgery.
Two hours after the attack, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP in an email that Khalid was the primary target of the attack, and also claimed that “[a]s a result of a suicide attack carried out by hero mujahedeen Hafiz Mohammad inside a guest house, a large number of intelligence officials were injured.”
Khalid, who had survived an assassination attempt in 2007 when he was serving as governor of Kandahar province, was known for strong anti-Taliban measures and had only recently been appointed to the top post at NDS.
The NDS chief had reportedly been expecting an important emissary from the Taliban to the meeting today. Pajhwok News reports: “Khalid had told two women Wolesi Jirga lawmakers that he would be meeting a key individual of the armed opposition on Thursday. And, the lawmakers advised Khalid to be very careful when meeting the person.”
According to AFP, Afghan police described the attack on Khalid as a grenade attack, and officials said the attacker had been searched before entering the guesthouse. The NDS spokesman told Pajhwok News that “[the man detonated his explosives when he was meeting the NDS chief.” TOLONews reported that the blast wounded two other people besides the NDS chief, who is said to be in stable condition.
Today’s assassination attempt bears a strong resemblance to the Taliban’s assassination of Afghan High Peace Council head Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was killed in September 2011 by a Taliban suicide bomber posing as a peace envoy. The Taliban suicide bomber hid a bomb in his turban and detonated it as he hugged Rabbani in his home in Kabul.
The Taliban claimed credit for the assassination of Rabbani. Afghanistan’s Interior Minister and Khalid directly linked Rabbani’s assassination to the Taliban and its Quetta Shura, as well as to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI.
There is “no doubt the ISI is involved” in Rabbani’s assassination, Interior Minister General Bismellah Mohammadi told the Afghan House of Representatives shortly after the attack.
Another member of the Afghan High Peace Council was assassinated by the Taliban in May. The Mullah Dadullah Front, a Taliban group closely linked to al Qaeda, claimed credit for the assassination of Arsala Rahmani, a senior member of the Afghan High Peace Council. Rahmani, who had served as a deputy education minister during Taliban rule in Afghanistan, was gunned down in the Afghan capital. The Mullah Dadullah Front said he was killed for negotiating with the Taliban on behalf of the Afghan government.