A Taliban suicide bomber wearing a police uniform blew himself up inside a heavily guarded compound on Saturday as top Afghan and international officials left a meeting, killing two senior Afghan police commanders and wounding the German general who commands coalition troops in northern Afghanistan.
Two German soldiers and two other Afghans were also killed in the blast, the latest in an insurgent spring offensive. It came just weeks before a planned drawdown of US troops begins this summer.
The bomber detonated his explosives-laden vest inside the governor’s complex in Takhar Province, said Faiz Mohammad Tawhedi, a spokesman for the governor.
“What we know is the guy who carried out the attack had a police uniform on,” Tawhedi said. “How he entered the meeting room and why he was not searched, we don’t know.”
Among the dead was General Daud Daud, regional police commander in northern Afghanistan, according to the provincial health director Hassain Basech.
Daud was a former Afghan deputy interior minister for counternarcotics and a former bodyguard of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the charismatic Tajik leader who commanded the Northern Alliance and died in an al-Qaeda suicide bombing two days before the Sept. 11 attacks that provoked the US invasion.
He was named chief of the northern zone police, which covers the nine northern provinces from its headquarters in Mazar-i-Sharif, about a year ago, at a time when security in northern Afghanistan was steadily deteriorating.
Also killed were provincial police chief General Shah Jahan Noori, a secretary to the governor and one of Daud’s bodyguards, the health director said.
General Markus Kneip, the NATO commander for northern Afghanistan, was among the wounded, German Federal Minister of Defence Thomas de Maiziere said in Berlin.
Earlier this year, Kneip took over NATO’s northern regional command, which covers nine provinces on Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. He also serves as the senior national commander of the 4,900 German troops deployed in the north, a region that had been relatively calm but has seen a rise in violence over the past two years.
Two German soldiers were killed and two others were wounded in the blast, de Maiziere said. Fifty-one German soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since the start of the war.
“The attackers and their -superiors are criminal murderers,” de Maiziere said. “They should not and will not have the last word. We will not leave the path of partnership. However, it is a steep and bitter price.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also condemned the attack, saying in a statement that she was “shocked and sad about the dead and wounded German soldiers as well the many Afghan victims.”
Merkel demanded a thorough investigation to find and punish the perpetrators.
Takhar Province Governor Abdul Jabar Taqwa suffered burns to his head, hands and back. Nine other Afghans were wounded, including a cameraman working in the governor’s office and eight Afghan troops.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing — the latest in an uptick of violence since the extremist movement launched its spring offensive on May 1.