Kandahar
Kandahar

ISLAMABAD - Officials in Afghanistan say a top regional security commander and several of his bodyguards were killed in a bombing attack in southern Afghanistan early Wednesday.

Afghan officials identified the slain man as Janan Mama, who was heading the Crisis Response Unit for the border police force in Kandahar province.

A provincial government spokesman said a "sticky bomb" — an explosive device with an adhesive pad — was placed on the police commander’s vehicle.

The Taliban insurgency swiftly took responsibility for plotting what it called a "tactical explosion" on Janan’s convoy in the provincial capital, also called Kandahar. Insurgents have lately increased the use of sticky bombs to target Afghans security officials.

In a statement sent to media, a Taliban spokesman claimed the blast killed six other security personnel, though insurgent casualty tolls are often inflated.

The insurgency described the slain police commander as a key U.S. ally in the southern Afghan region.

Janan was a close associate of the powerful anti-Taliban provincial police chief, General Abdul Razeq.

The Taliban is expected to announce its so-called annual “spring offensive” later this month that leads to an uptick in insurgent battlefield attacks around the country.

But there has already been a significant increase in targeted killings of Afghan security officials and insurgent raids on district centers, provoking an equally strong response from U.S.-backed Afghan security forces.

The hostilities have already caused a record number of Afghan civilian casualties this year.

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA, has documented around 2,260 civilian casualties, including over 700 deaths, in the first three months of 2018.