MAZAR-I-SHARIF, AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Officials say the Taliban governor of Afghanistan’s Balkh province, known for fighting Daesh terrorists, was killed in a suicide attack at his office on Thursday.
Mohammad Dawood Muzammil was assassinated a day after meeting with top government officials visiting from Kabul, making him one of the highest-ranking figures slain since the Taliban retook power in 2021.
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, violence has decreased dramatically, but the security situation has deteriorated again, with Daesh claiming several deadly attacks.
“Two people, including Balkh Governor Mohammad Dawood Muzammil, were killed in an explosion this morning,” local police spokesman Asif Waziri said, adding that the explosion occurred on the second floor of his office in the provincial capital Mazar-i-Sharif.
“It was a suicide bombing. “We don’t know how the suicide bomber got to the governor’s office,” he said, adding that two people were also injured.
The explosion occurred moments after the governor arrived in his office, according to Khairuddin, who was injured in the incident and is being treated in a hospital in Mazar-i-Sharif.
“There was a loud bang. “I fell to the ground,” he admitted, adding that he saw a friend lose a hand in the explosion.
Authorities increased security at the governorate and prohibited journalists from taking photographs, an AFP correspondent reported from near the blast site.
Muzammil was “martyred in an explosion by Islam’s enemies,” according to government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
Muzammil was appointed governor of Nangarhar’s eastern province, where he led the fight against Daesh militants, before being transferred to Balkh last year.
According to a government statement, he met with two deputy prime ministers and other senior officials who were in Balkh to review a major irrigation project in northern Afghanistan on Wednesday.
Since last year, Daesh has emerged as the Taliban government’s most serious security challenge, carrying out attacks on Afghan civilians as well as foreigners and foreign interests.
Several attacks, some claimed by Daesh, have rocked Balkh, including one in Mazar-i-Sharif last year.
In January, a suicide bomber blew himself up near Kabul’s foreign ministry, killing at least ten people in an attack claimed by Daesh.
The Taliban and Daesh share a strict Sunni Islamist ideology, but the latter seeks to establish a global “caliphate” rather than the Taliban’s more inward-looking goal of ruling an independent Afghanistan.
In December, gunmen stormed a popular business hotel in Kabul, injuring at least five Chinese nationals.
Daesh claimed responsibility for that raid, as well as an attack on Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul in December, which Islamabad condemned as a “assassination attempt” on its ambassador.
In another Daesh-claimed attack, two Russian embassy staff members were killed in a suicide bombing outside their mission in September.