A Taliban suicide bomber assassinated Kandahar’s chief of police in an attack at a headquarters in the provincial capital earlier today .
A suicide bomber dressed as a policeman penetrated security at a heavily guarded headquarters and entered the office of Brigadier General Khan Mohammad Mujahid. The suicide bomber then detonated his vest, killing Mujahid and critically wounding two other police officers, according to Pajhwok Afghan News.
Khan is the latest senior Afghan official in Kandahar to have been assassinated by the Taliban since the spring of 2010. The list of those killed in the Taliban’s assassination campaign also includes the deputy governor of Kandahar, the district chief for Arghandab, and the deputy mayor of Kandahar City.
Today’s suicide attack in Kandahar is the seventh in Afghanistan in three days. Yesterday, the Taliban carried out three attacks in Paktia, Kabul, and Kandahar. A suicide assault team killed three policemen in an attack at a training facility in Paktia. Three people were wounded in an attack outside a government building in Kabul, and another was wounded in an attack that targeted police in Kandahar.
The Taliban carried out three suicide attacks on April 13. The largest attack occurred in Kunar province, when a suicide bomber killed an influential pro-government tribal leader and warlord, along with nine other Afghans. In addition, 13 Afghans were wounded in suicide attacks in Kandahar and Kapisa.
Radical Taliban wing linked to recent suicide assaults
Today’s attack, like previous complex suicide operations carried out by the Taliban in Kandahar this year, was likely carried out by the Mullah Dadullah Mahaz, or the Mullah Dadullah Front, a radical Taliban subgroup closely linked to al Qaeda. US military intelligence officials told The Long War Journal that this subgroup is suspected of having carried out the recent attacks in Kandahar.
The Mullah Dadullah Front is a wing of the Taliban in the south that has adopted al Qaeda’s tactics and ideology, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal in December 2010. The Mullah Dadullah Front is led by Mullah Adbul Qayoum Zakir, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee who has since been promoted as the Taliban’s top military commander and co-leader of the Taliban’s Quetta Shura.
The radical Taliban wing is thought to be behind the April 7 suicide assault on a police headquarters in Kandahar that killed six policemen; the Feb. 12 suicide assault on the provincial police headquarters that killed 19 people; and the Jan. 8. suicide attack in Kandahar’s border city of Spin Boldak that killed 17 people, including a senior police commander allied with General Abdul Raziq, an anti-Taliban warlord in Kandahar.
Background on the situation in Kandahar
The Taliban, under a directive issued by Mullah Omar, have responded to the Coalition and Afghan offensive in the south with a campaign of violence and intimidation. Taliban fighters have been directed to “capture and kill any Afghan who is supporting and/or working for coalition forces” and the Afghan government, as well as “any Afghan women who are helping or providing information to coalition forces.”
As part of the Taliban’s counteroffensive in Kandahar, the terror group has targeted tribal leaders, politicians, and other elites for assassination. Dozens of Afghan officials, Afghans, including the deputy governor of Kandahar, the district chief for Arghandab and the deputy mayor of Kandahar City, have been killed since the spring of 2010. The Taliban’s counteroffensive is led by Mullah Muhammad Isa Akhund, the military commander for the province.
Top leaders at the International Security Assistance Force and US politicians have described Kandahar as the strategic center of the country, and said the province is key to defeating the Taliban.
Coalition and Afghan special forces have heavily targeted the Taliban’s top leadership in Kandahar and neighboring Helmand province. Scores of mid- and senior-level leaders in Kandahar have been killed or captured over the past several months, including a “key” financier for the Mullah Dadullah Front; an unnamed senior commander who operated in Panjwai and was based out of the Pakistani city of Chaman; and another senior commander who is linked to Iraq’s Qods Force.
Numerous Taliban leaders operate from Chaman, which is across the border from Spin Boldak in Kandahar. Pakistan’s military and intelligence services have allowed the Taliban to operate from Chaman and other locations, and they support Taliban operations in Afghanistan.
In an effort to curb Taliban influence, special operations raids have been carried out in support of ISAF and Afghan counterinsurgency efforts in Kandahar. Since the summer of 2010, ISAF and Afghan conventional forces have moved into the districts of Arghandab, Dand, Zhari, and Panjwai in an effort to deny the Taliban safe havens and relieve pressure on the city of Kandahar. Scores of new combat outposts now dot the region in an attempt to secure regions that have been under Taliban control for years.