The Taliban have claimed credit for a suicide attack in northern Afghanistan that killed the head of the provincial council in Baghlan province.
The suicide bomber, who was dressed in a police uniform, attacked and killed Mohammad Rasol Mohseni as he was walking into his office today at a government compound in Pul-e-Khumri, the provincial capital. Also killed were 13 others, including his assistant, four bodyguards, and eight civilians.
The Taliban claimed credit for the attack in a statement that was emailed to reporters.
“Today at 11 am in front of the Baghlan provincial council office, we have carried out a suicide attack and killed the head of the council,” the Taliban said in the statement, which was sent by spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid.
Today’s bombing in Baghlan is the second major suicide attack in Afghanistan in the past five days. On May 16, a suicide bomber from the Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin killed six Americans and nine Afghans in an attack in Kabul. The Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin is a Taliban and al Qaeda-linked group that fights in Afghanistan.
The Taliban had said it would continue to target both NATO forces as well as Afghan security personnel and government officials when it announced its latest ‘spring offensive’ at the end of April.
In the announcement, the Taliban said it would continue to infiltrate Coalition and Afghan bases to conduct “martyrdom operations,” or suicide attacks.
In the announcement of “Khalid bin Waleed spring operation,” the Taliban also warned Afghans to “stay away from the bases of the invaders, their residential areas or working for them in order to avoid civilian losses.” Additionally, the Taliban called on “all the officials and workers of the stooge Karzai regime to break away from this decaying administration.”
The Taliban and its ally, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, have conducted numerous assassinations in the Afghan north over the past several years. Some of the more prominent assassinations include the killing of the top Afghan police commander in the north, General Daud Daud, and his former Shura-e-Nazar deputy, Shah Jahan Noori, on May, 28 2011; and the murder of Kunduz Governor Mohammad Omar in Tahkar on Oct. 8, 2010. Both men were killed in suicide attacks.
In February 2012, Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security identified the existence of a Taliban cell that specialized in assassinations in the Afghan north. The cell is led by Qari Abdul Rahim, a Taliban commander who is based in Peshawar, Pakistan, and who is linked to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Rahim’s cell supports terrorist operations in Kunduz, Badakhshan, and Baghlan provinces.