Bomber posing as peace envoy wounds Afghan spy chief

 

A Taliban suicide bomber posing as a peace messenger wounded Afghanistan's intelligence chief in Kabul today, another sign that the government is struggling to improve security ahead of a Nato pullout in 2014.

Asadullah Khalid was wounded when the bomber struck in a meeting at a guesthouse used by the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

"The bomber was a peace messenger sent by the Taliban to the Afghan government, around 3 pm in a meeting with the head of NDS, detonated his explosives," said NDS spokesman Shafiqullah Tahiri.

"Right now the head of the NDS is in good condition. The surgery was a success."

The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing, which highlighted Afghanistan's ongoing instability as US-led Nato troops prepare to withdraw by the end of 2014.

After more than 10 years of war against Western forces as well as Afghan troops, militants are capable of striking in the heart of the capital.

The attack was almost a carbon copy of last year's assassination of Afghanistan's chief peace negotiator, Burhanuddin Rabbani.

He died at his Kabul home when an insurgent posing as a peace envoy detonated explosives concealed in a turban.

The Afghan government has failed to draw the Taliban into face-to-face talks.

In a video message released by his office, President Hamid Karzai said:

"The head of the NDS is now undergoing surgery ... the chief of the hospital has told me he is in a good condition and now we hope he will recover and he will be sent for further treatment elsewhere."

Afghanistan's parliament approved the nomination of Khalid as the new head of the NDS in September, an appointment that alarmed human rights groups who have long accused the agency of torturing detainees, allegations it denies.

"We will see more similar attacks in order to further increase uncertainty about 2014. It's part of the psychological warfare by the Taliban," said Davood Moradian, a former presidential adviser and head of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, a think-tank.

Moradian said Khalid was a powerful ally for Karzai since he had built up a formidable network of contacts among the Pashtun community in the south and east of the country, where the insurgency is strongest.

He said Khalid was renowned for his tough stance against the Taliban and his belief that the Afghan government needed to take a tough line with the insurgents in any negotiations.

Human rights groups have been troubled by allegations that Khalid, a close aide of Karzai, ran a torture prison while he was governor of Kandahar. He denies any wrongdoing.

Khalid built a formidable intelligence network to infiltrate the Taliban while serving in previous posts as governor of Kandahar and Ghazni provinces, both hotbeds of insurgency, said Michael Semple, an expert on the Taliban at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard.

"He had access to significant operational funds and used these to run agents deep inside the Taliban in Quetta," Semple said, referring to the city in southwest Pakistan where many of the Taliban's leaders are believed to be based.

"He also has a reputation for conducting black operations, bombings and assassinations, which is why the Taliban fear him," Semple added.

Khalid is seen as one of the most effective operators in Afghanistan's security hierarchy.

Diplomats saw Khalid as an instrumental figure in a systematic attempt to rig the 2009 presidential election in favour of Karzai, which sparked a protracted showdown with Washington before Karzai was eventually returned to power.

As one of the most influential members of Karzai's circle, Khalid was poised to play a critical role in the fraught process of political transition before the next elections in April, 2014, when Karzai is bound by the constitution to step down.

Reuters

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you that teacher who c...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you that teacher who c...

IT Auditor

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: IT Auditor , Information Governance, NHS...

Process Improvement Analyst (Testing)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform