Afghan suicide bomber kills Kandahar police chief

Khan Mohammad Mujahid, file pic from march 2011 Khan Mohammad Mujahid had survived previous attempts on his life

The police chief of Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province has died in a suicide attack on his headquarters.

Khan Mohammad Mujahid was killed and two other police officers were injured in the blast, officials say.

A suicide bomber managed to penetrate the defences of the police headquarters by wearing a police uniform, the Afghan interior ministry said.

Mr Khan had survived previous attempts on his life. The police HQ has also been targeted in the past.

"The suicide attacker had strapped explosives to his body," deputy chief Shir Shah told the AFP news agency.

"He detonated himself at the gate of Kandahar police headquarters. Police chief Khan Mohammad Mujahid has been martyred, [and] two policemen have been injured."

Taliban spokesman Yusuf Ahmadi said one of its members carried out the attack, and gave AFP a slightly different account of events.

"He had disguised himself as a policeman and shot the police chief with his pistol, hugged him and then detonated himself," he said.

The police headquarters in Kandahar has been the target of several attacks in the past, which had forced the authorities to review security arrangements around the complex recently, the BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul reports.

Analysis

Mr Khan is the latest victim of an assassination campaign launched by the insurgents in recent months.

It has claimed the lives of senior government officials, governors, police chiefs and intelligence operatives working for the National Directorate of Security.

Most of the victims had a reputation for efficiency within the administration, and were looked up to by their juniors.

Afghan security and intelligence officials say the Taliban has lost several of its commanders in recent raids carried out by the US and Afghan Special Forces.

This has crippled the Taliban's ability to lay ambushes or engage security forces in the battlefield.

So it is targeting Afghan officials to remain relevant in the conflict.

Khan Mohammad Mujahid had survived two previous attempts on his life, one on his way home and another in his motorcade.

Mr Khan was a former mujahideen commander who fought against the Soviets in the 80s and then the Taliban. He was an influential militia commander fighting in Ahmad Shah Masoud's Northern Alliance.

After the fall of the Taliban, Mr Khan worked for the defence ministry. He was soon appointed the police chief of Balkh, then Ghazni and finally the head of police in his home province of Kandahar.

He had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant general by President Hamid Karzai.

His death is a personal loss for the Afghan president, who is already mourning the killing of an important tribal elder and ally, Malik Zarin, in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, our correspondent says.

Kandahar is seen as the spiritual homeland of the Taliban, and has experienced some of the worst of the violence in Afghanistan in recent years.

Attacks on Afghan police and troops have increased recently as the Taliban tries to undermine efforts to prepare local forces to assume full security control once the Nato security force leaves.

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