The latest: In a new development in the case of the killing of the Taliban’s Balkh governor, the Islamic State- Khorasan (IS-K) has now claimed responsibility for the suicide attack. An IS-K fighter waited for the governor outside his office and “rushed towards him, detonating his explosive belt,” the group said in a statement.
- The Taliban governor, known for fighting against Islamic State jihadists, was killed in a suicide attack at his office on Thursday, officials said.
- Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a tweet that the governor was “martyred by the enemies of Islam.”
- The killing, a day after he met top government officials visiting from Kabul, makes Mohammad Dawood Muzammil one of the highest-ranking figures slain since the Taliban stormed back to power in 2021.
- “Two people, including Mohammad Dawood Muzammil, the governor of Balkh, have been killed in an explosion on Thursday morning,” Taliban local police spokesman Asif Waziri had said, adding that the blast happened on the second floor of his office, in the provincial capital Mazar-e-Sharif.
- Authorities deployed extra security at the governorate, who forbade journalists from taking photos, a correspondent had reported from near the site of the blast.
Back story: Muzammil was initially appointed governor of the eastern province of Nangarhar, where he led the fight against IS-K jihadists, before being moved to Balkh last year.
- On Wednesday, he met two deputy prime ministers and other senior officials visiting Balkh to review a major irrigation project in northern Afghanistan, according to a Taliban statement.
Why it matters? IS-K terrorists have stepped up their attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban took over in August 2021. Attacks have targeted both civilians, including the Shiite minority, and Taliban security forces.
- Several attacks have also rocked Balkh, including in Mazar-i-Sharif last year, some claimed by IS-K.
- In January, a suicide bomber killed at least 10 people when he blew himself up near the foreign ministry in Kabul, in an attack claimed by IS-K.
- At least five Chinese nationals were wounded in December when gunmen stormed a hotel popular with businessmen in Kabul. That raid was claimed by IS-K, as was an attack on Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul in December that Islamabad denounced as an “assassination attempt” against its ambassador.
- Two Russian embassy staff members were killed in a suicide bombing outside their mission in September in another attack claimed by IS-K.
Zoom out: This comes even as the Taliban has taken this opportunity to target innocent civilians. Local sources in Balkh said that the Taliban shot 12 residents of this province for allegedly cooperating with ISIS.
- According to the sources, Taliban took these people out of their houses on Wednesday night and then, shot them in Shadian desert of Mazar-e Sharif.
- According to the information, the killed people are Tajiks and Hazaras.
- Sources stated that among these people, four of them were security forces of the previous government. Taliban have not commented about this issue so far.
- Previously too, Taliban have shot dozens of civilians on various charges in different parts of the country, especially in Balkh.