Logar Governor Killed By Blast in Mosque

News - Afghanistan


Local security officials of eastern Logar province Tuesday said that the provincial governor, Arsala Jamal, was killed in a blast in a mosque during morning Eid prayer. Fifteen civilians were also reported injured by the explosion.

The incident took place in Pul-e-Alam, the capital of the province, around 9:00am when an explosive device placed inside the mosque detonated, said Abdul Sabor Nasrati, Provincial Police Chief.

The victims have been taken to a nearby hospital for emergency treatment and police have already started investigating the incident. The mosque and the area around it have been cleared and secured.

According to Logar officials, preliminary inspections of the scene show that the explosive device was hidden inside the mosque's microphone. Reportedly, the device did not detonate until Jamal was in front of the microphone delivering a speech, which could explain why he was the only person immediately killed by the explosion.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, though many have been quick to suspect Taliban involvement.

Logar police said the same mosque was swept on Monday and two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were found and disabled.

"Our enemies never sit quite and are always ready to attack, and this incident shows that we have weaknesses," said Mohammad Omar Doudzai, the recently appointed Interior Minister. "We will investigate the murder and take measures moving forward to make sure this doesn't happen again."

Governor Jamal previously served as the executive of Khost province, where he was able to avoid numerous attempts against his life.

The assassination comes just a week after Latifullah Mehsud, a close aide of Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, was arrested by U.S. forces in the Mohammad Agha district of Logar. Mehsud was accused of involvement in a number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as the bombing plot targeting Times Square in New York City in 2010.

Back in August, Logar security officials noted an increase in insurgent attacks on bridges and other infrastructure throughout the province, particularly in the Mohammad Agha district.

Logar is considered one of the more restive provinces in Afghanistan, being a focal point of Taliban operations and clashes between insurgents and Afghan security forces recently.

The opening of a number of the province's voter registration centers for next spring's Presidential and Provincial elections was delayed on account of security concerns over the summer.

This isn't the first time a Logar Governor has been assassinated. In 2008, then provincial governor Abdullah Wardak was killed by a remote control mine detonated by Taliban insurgents as he departed his house.

Tuesday morning's incident also bears resemblance to the 2010 Taliban assassination of Kunduz Governor Mohammad Omar, the last time a provincial governor was killed in Afghanistan. Omar was targeted and killed by a bombing inside of a mosque during the month of October.

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