Afghan governor assassinated in mosque on holy day
Stars and Stripes
KABUL — A bomb placed in a microphone killed a provincial governor and wounded more than a dozen people at a crowded mosque Tuesday, the first day of a Muslim religious holiday.
The governor of Logar province, Arsala Jamal, was reading a message from Afghan President Hamid Karzai to hundreds of worshippers, when a bomb in his microphone exploded, killing Jamal and wounding 15 others at a mosque in Logar’s capital, Pul-e Alam, in eastern Afghanistan, Jamal’s spokesman, Din Mohammed Darwish said.
It appears the explosives were placed in the mosque ahead of time, said Darwish, who blamed Taliban insurgents. A Taliban spokesman did not immediately answer his phone.
The bombing, which took place around 8:45 a.m., comes on the first day of Eid-e Qurban (called Eid al-Adha in Arab countries), an important Muslim holiday that celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to show fealty to God.
The timing and location of the attack sparked angry reactions.
“They are doing this act in a holy place on a holy day, so you can’t call it ‘jihad,’” Logar tribal leader Hajji Abdul Malouk said in a phone interview.
The Taliban have stepped up a campaign of assassinations against government representatives in an attempt to undermine the Kabul government, and many provincial officials as well as low-level workers have been killed in attacks in the past two years. While international law regards government workers as civilians, the Taliban consider them to be collaborators with foreign occupiers.
Insurgent attacks are commonly carried out during religious holidays. In August, 14 members of a family were killed in a bombing at a graveyard while marking Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Nangarhar province, also in eastern Afghanistan.
Tuesday’s attack was nearly a year after a suicide bomber killed 40 people and wounded 50 more in an attack on a mosque in the northern province of Faryab, also during Eid-e Qurban prayers.
A little over a year from the deadline for all international combat troops to withdraw from Afghanistan, the country’s east remains a battleground and a particularly dangerous region to be a government official. In nearby Laghman province, two successive directors of women’s affairs were assassinated, the last one in December.