Taliban assassinate Kunduz governor in attack at mosque

The Taliban have murdered the head of Kunduz province, along with 14 other people, in a bombing today at a mosque in the neighboring province of Tahkar. The governor had been outspoken in his opposition to the Taliban and allied terror groups operating in the north.

Governor Muhammad Omar was killed while worshiping during Friday prayers at the Spinghar mosque in Taluqan, the provincial capital of Takhar province, Pajwhok Afghan News reported. Omar regularly attended Friday prayers at the Spinghar mosque. The Taliban are thought to have planted the bomb in the mosque prior to the service, and detonated it during prayers. Among those also killed in the blast was the prayer leader of the mosque.

“Prayers were ongoing when the massive explosion that shook the mosque took place,” a witness at the scene of the attack said.

Omar had survived several previous assassination attempts on his life, according to the BBC. And last year, his brother was also assassinated by the Taliban.

Omar had been vocal in his opposition to the Taliban, and had consistently warned of the spread of the Taliban and allied terror groups in the Afghan north. His assassination comes in the wake of news that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency has directed the Taliban to increase their attacks against civilian Afghan leaders, as reported in The Wall Street Journal.

Just days ago, on Oct. 3, Omar said that the security situation in Kunduz province has stabilized, but that there are still more that more than 1,000 Taliban fighters and over 200 “foreigners, including Pakistanis, Chechens, Uzbeks, and Arabs” active in the province, according to Pajwhok Afghan News. The governor also stated that more than 40 percent of the rural areas of Kunduz are still under control of the Taliban.

Over the past several months, Coalition and Afghan forces have heavily targeted senior Taliban leaders in the north. Numerous shadow governors and leaders, many linked to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an al Qaeda affiliate, have been killed or captured in the Afghan north this year.

Within the past week, five top shadow government leaders have been killed or captured. Coalition forces killed Mullah Ismail, the Taliban’s shadow governor of Badghis province, and Abdul Hakim, a senior military commander, in a raid on Oct. 6. On Oct. 4, Maulawi Jawadullah , the district shadow governor for Yangi Qalah in Takhar, was killed in an airstrike. On Oct. 5, Qari Ziauddin, the shadow governor for Faryab province, was killed. And also on Oct. 5, Coalition and Afghan forces captured Saifullah, the Taliban’s shadow governor for the district of Chahar Darah in Kunduz. Both Zianuddin and Saifullah took orders from the Peshawar Shura, one of four Taliban military councils based in Pakistan. And Saifullah also had close links to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an al Qaeda affiliate.

For more information on the security situation in the Afghan north, see:

Coalition airstrike kills Taliban shadow governor in Afghan north

Coalition kills Taliban’s shadow governor in Badghis province

IMU-linked Taliban shadow governor captured in Afghan north

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • IK says:

    But was there a Quran that was damaged by the bombing? Surely hordes of Afgans are waiting with baited breath to find out, and then rampage. Don’t they kill themselves when someone 8000 miles away threatens to burn his own copy?

  • Marlin says:

    The Taliban resort to ever more desperate measures. If this article is true, there is a good reason for it.

    The best Taliban commanders are dead or captured. Their men are harried and subject to constant attack and betrayal. They are under-equipped, overwhelmed and demoralised. In a word, the Taliban are losing.
    In Britain and the US there may be doubt and confusion over the future of the Afghan war, but in southern Afghanistan the description of the Taliban insurgency by senior figures at the forefront of the fighting is bold and unequivocal.
    “The Taliban are getting an absolute arse-kicking,” said one top-level Westerner deeply involved with Operation Ham Kari, the latest big push by US and British forces in Kandahar. “It’s been their worst year since 2001-02. We’re taking them off the battlefield in industrial numbers. We’re convinced that the initiative has really shifted.”

    The Australian: Taliban on verge of collapse, NATO and Afghan officials believe

  • Nic says:

    At the risk of sounding naive, I ask the following question: Why doesn’t the bombing of an Islamic holy site and the killing of Muslims at prayer create a massive wave of anger toward the Taliban resulting in a popular uprising against the Taliban ending with the expulsion of the Taliban from the province or country?

  • kp says:

    @IK and @Nic: see some of my comments on an earlier thread about the mosque attack.

    I think part of the issue is that they’re attacking minority Muslims that are seen by the majority as not really Muslims in the Sunni sense. Even the Shia would probably agree with them (when they’re not the kufir getting bombed).

    Yes, it makes no sense. Clearly Korans were damaged or destroyed in this attack and no outrage.

    The one thing it can do though is to make people covertly hate the Taliabn. I’m sure there are quite a few Sufi out there who are willing to rat on a Talib given half a chance.

  • davidp says:

    kp, I agree that the attack on the sufi mosque in Karachi was against minority Muslims. There is no information in the reports I can find that says the Spinghar mosque in Taluqan is not an orthodox Deobandi mosque. Do you have info, does the name carry the message, or do we not know?

  • Bing says:

    Intent is key. A burning of an American flag by an Islamic nutjob or liberal hippie is considerably more annoying then an American flag inadvertently burnt during a fire fight by our forces.

  • James says:

    Another war crime (amongst many) and crime against humanity COMMITTED BY THE TALIBAN.
    I always thought that slaughtering innocent civilians and/or legitimate government officials (as this man was) in addition to destroying a legitimate place of religious worship was strictly forbidden by international treatises and laws.
    Of course, someone may proffer the lame duck logic and excuse that the Taliban never was a party to such agreements. However, neither was Hitler or the Nazis for that matter but Afghanistan was as well as Germany and since they falsely claim to be the legit reps of Afghanistan they are a party to such.
    I wonder where is Julian Assange’s outrage over this.

  • madashell59 says:

    Remember according to any Islamist fanatic anyone who aids the coalition forces is considered an infidel. And if the leader of the Mosque was considered an infidel then the Taliban figured that so are any of his followers.
    These fanatics are like a cancer within the Islamist faith and it isn’t until the intelligence or the leaders of the Islamist faith decide that the cancer is bad for the Islamist body it will continue to spread. If unchecked it will kill the Islamist body.
    My prayers go out to the Governor and the others and their families who have perished.


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