Taliban claims responsibility for suicide attack on Afghan spy chief
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing that wounded Afghanistan's intelligence chief in Kabul.
Asadullah Khalid was wounded when a bomber struck at a guesthouse used by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a heavily guarded area of the capital, reports The Express Tribune.
"Asadullah Khalid was the main target. A number of spies have been killed and wounded," said Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement.
The attack highlights Afghanistan's 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 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," President Hamid Karzai was quoted, as saying.
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.
Davood Moradian, a former presidential adviser and head of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, 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 added that Khalid was renowned for his tough stance against the Taliban, and is seen as one of the most effective operators in Afghanistan's security hierarchy.
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, the paper said.