Suicide bomber kills Taliban regional leader in his office: Governor becomes one of the highest-ranking figures murdered since the Islamists seized control of Afghanistan
- The explosion killed Muhammad Dawood Muzamil in his office in Mazar-e-Sharif
- Police said it was a suicide attack but no-one has yet claimed responsibility
A top Taliban official has been assassinated by a bomb planted in his office, Afghan police have reported.
The explosion killed Muhammad Dawood Muzamil – the provincial governor of Afghanistan’s Balkh province – along with two other officials inside the governor’s office in the provincial capital Mazar-e Sharif, local police spokesman Asif Waziri said.
Waziri added that the blast, which he said was a suicide attack, happened on the second floor of Muzamil’s office.
‘It was a suicide attack. We don’t have information as to how the suicide bomber reached the office of the governor,’ he concluded.
Some local media reports said more than 30 people were wounded by the blast and were taken to hospital for treatment.
Taliban’s Balkh province governor Muhammad Dawood Muzamil was assassinated in his office
A wounded man receives treatment at a hospital after a bomb blast in Mazar-e Sharif, the capital city of Balkh province, in northern Afghanistan, Thursday, March 9, 2023
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Zabihullah Mujahid, main spokesman for the Taliban’s government, said an investigation has been opened into the incident, but did not provide additional details.
He added later on Twitter that the governor had been ‘martyred in an explosion by the enemies of Islam’.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack, but the regional affiliate of the so-called Islamic State group – known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (IS-K) – is a key rival of the Taliban.
The explosion happened moments after the governor arrived in his office, said a man who was wounded in the incident.
‘There was a bang. I fell on the ground,’ he told AFP, adding that he witnessed a friend lose a hand in the blast.
Authorities deployed extra security at the governorate who forbade journalists from taking photos, an AFP correspondent reported from near the site of the blast.
Muzamil was appointed governor of Balkh last year and has a history of leading crackdowns on IS militants, particularly during his previous posting as governor of the eastern Nangarhar Province.
On Wednesday, he met two deputy prime ministers and other senior officials visiting Balkh to review a major irrigation project in northern Afghanistan, according to a government statement.
IS has emerged as the biggest security challenge to the Taliban government since last year, carrying out attacks against Afghan civilians as well as foreigners and foreign interests.
Taliban fighters stand guard outside the hospital after a bomb blast in Mazar-e Sharif
People stand outside a hospital after a bomb blast in Mazar-e Sharif, the capital city of Balkh province, in northern Afghanistan, Thursday, March 9, 2023
Several attacks have rocked Balkh, including in Mazar-i-Sharif last year, some claimed by IS.
In January, a suicide bomber killed at least 10 people when he blew himself up near the foreign ministry in Kabul, in an attack claimed by IS.
The Taliban and IS share an austere Sunni Islamist ideology, but the latter are fighting to establish a global ‘caliphate’ instead of the Taliban’s more inward-looking goal of ruling an independent Afghanistan.
At least five Chinese nationals were wounded in December when gunmen stormed a hotel popular with businesspeople in Kabul.
That raid was claimed by IS, as was an attack on Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul in December that Islamabad denounced as an ‘assassination attempt’ against its ambassador.
Two Russian embassy staff members were killed in a suicide bombing outside their mission in September in another attack claimed by IS.
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