ISLAMABAD - A roadside bomb in Afghanistan’s northeastern Takhar province Sunday killed a district governor and his three security guards. The attack comes as Afghan officials blame militants fleeing an army offensive in neighboring Pakistan for being behind the spike in violence in the country’s north.
A police spokesman says the slain governor, Hamidullah Haqjo, was visiting security outposts of his Ashkhamish district early morning when his vehicle hit a landmine.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed responsibility for the bombing, which happened a day after hundreds of insurgents assaulted security outposts in the volatile southern Helmand province, killing at least 17 police officers.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Noor-ul-haq Ulumi has claimed that militants, including Chechen, Uzbek, Tajik and other nationalities are behind the increased attacks on Afghan security forces in northern provinces, including Badakhshan, Kunduz, Takhar, Faryab and Baghlan.
Olomi told reporters in Kabul Sunday the foreign fighters entered the region and established bases there after having fled the ongoing counter-insurgency operation in the Pakistani border territories. Without naming any country, he called on regional nations and the world at large to help Afghanistan hunt down these militants.
Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgency is more active in eastern and southern parts of the country. But the focus of its this summer's offensive has been mainly on northern provinces. The Islamist group has not responded to Kabul's allegations that foreign fighters are assisting its violent campaign.
The interior minister insisted that foreign militants “shared same culture, languages and physical appearance with locals” making it difficult for security forces to flush them out of the north. Among other territorial advances, Taliban insurgents have recently seized Yamgan district in Badakhshan and Afghan security forces’ attempts to retake it have not succeeded.
Offensive under way in Pakistan
The army offensive underway in neighboring Pakistan has mainly focused on militant hideouts in so-called North And South Waziristan tribal districts near the Afghan border. It was launched one year ago and the military said on Saturday it has so far killed about 2,800 militants, including foreigners, and has left nearly 350 solders dead.
Army spokesman Major-General Asim Bajwa said troops have destroyed what he described terrorist infrastructure such as communication networks and sanctuaries in the region.
Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have witnessed improvement in recent months, but the rise Taliban attacks again appear to be causing strains in ties.