Kabul top cop steps down amid rash of attacks in Afghan capital

Police block off the street where a suicide attack on a foreign guest house in Kabul was followed by gunmen storming the building, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014.


By CARLO MUNOZ | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 30, 2014

KABUL, Afghanistan — Kabul's police chief has resigned in the wake of several high-profile Taliban attacks targeting foreigners in the Afghan capital.

Police spokesman Hashmatullah Stanakzai confirmed that Gen. Mohammad Zahir's resignation was accepted by the Interior Ministry on Sunday.  Ministry officials had been aware of Zahir's intentions to step down as Kabul police chief for over a week, Stanakzai told Stars and Stripes after the announcement.

Citing government sources, local news reports said the administration of President Ashraf Ghani had forced Zahir to resign because of the recent spate of bloody Taliban attacks in the capital. But Stanakzai denied those reports.

"He didn’t want to carry out his job [anymore]" Stanakzai said.

Zahir was the target of an attempted suicide attack on Nov. 9, when a militant snuck into Kabul police headquarters and blew himself up just outside of Zahir’s third-floor office.

That attack was the first of many launched by the Taliban across Kabul. Zahir’s resignation came on the same day that Afghan police confirmed that three foreigners were killed Saturday during an attack on a compound in the western part of the city.

The head of an international aid organization, his son and daughter, and an Afghan employee of the aid group were among the dead, Zahir told reporters on Sunday, shortly before announcing his resignation. Initial reports claimed only two foreigners and one Afghan national were killed during the assault on the compound.

Zahir declined to release the nationality of the casualties, or name the aid agency that was targeted. Local news reports claimed the victims were South African nationals.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said group carried out the attack.

Saturday's strike was the latest to specifically target foreigners. On Thanksgiving Day, Taliban fighters hit a guest house in the upscale Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood of Kabul. All four attackers were killed and no foreigners were hurt in the assault. Earlier that day, a British Embassy employee and an Afghan national were killed by a Taliban car bomb in eastern Kabul.

Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.

Twitter: @NatSecCarlo


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