Afghan provincial governor killed in mosque bomb attack

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The location of Kunduz in Afghanistan, where Mr Omar was killed. The Taliban began attacking NATO troops in the area in 2007.

A governor of the German-garrisoned province of Kunduz, Afghanistan was killed by a bomb attack in a mosque while attending Friday prayers in Taloqan. Faiz Mohammad Tauhidi, a spokesman for the governor of Takhar, confirmed that Mohammad Omar was killed by the blast along with twenty others. Up to thirty five may have been hurt in the attack, but the number of injuries is not yet clear. A Taliban spokesperson confirmed that the group was responsible for the bombing.

Mr Omar was killed by a bomb as he was leaving the Shirkat Mosque. He was born in Takhar province, and as a politician had close relationships with the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai. Abdul Jabar Taqwa, governor of Takhar, said he was upset by the attack. "He was the target, and the terrorists were able to kill him," he said. "This is a big loss for us because Mohammad Omar was a very brave and good governor." Three attempts have previously been made on his life, and his brother was assassinated last year by the Taliban.

Last week Mr Omar announced plans to increase efforts to stop the Taliban, who started attacking NATO troops in Kunduz three years ago. Since the invasion, attacks have been frequent. Mr Omar had previously served as the mayor of Taloqan between 1991 and 1992. During the civil war, he was a member of the Islamic Dawah Organisation of Afghanistan for a short period of time, before he was appointed as the governor of Baghlan Province, a position he served between 2001 and 2003.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said they were aware of the attack, but did not comment further. Provincial Security chief Shah Jahan Noori agreed that the governor was the main target of the attack. It has not yet been confirmed whether the bomb was planted near the mosque beforehand, or whether Mr Omar was killed by a suicide bomber. "The situation is chaos, we do not know whether it was a suicide attack or whether the bomb was already planted in the mosque," Noori said.