A suicide bomber killed the provincial police chief of Kandahar Friday, stunning Afghanistan’s second-largest city, where security has been a top priority for NATO forces.
At about 2 p.m. local time, the bomber made his way inside Kandahar police headquarters and attacked police chief Khan Mohammad Mujahid, killing him and wounding three others, according to Zamarai Bashari, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s interior ministry.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for what it called a “martyrdom attack,” which it said killed Mujahid and a dozen other police officers, according to spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi.
The bombing came a day after Kandahar police foiled another suicide attack on a local police station, shooting the would-be bomber and detonating his explosives before he could kill or seriously injure anyone. The Taliban also claimed responsibility for that attack.
Last week, three Taliban suicide bombers attacked a police complex on the city’s outskirts. Police shot the bombers as they attempted to force their way inside the complex, before they could detonate their explosive vests. But as rescuers responded, an ambulance rigged with a bomb exploded, killing two police officers, a soldier and three intelligence officers, Mujahid said at the time, adding that a dozen police officers were also injured.
The Taliban said the attack targeted the “puppet” forces of the Afghan government.
Kandahar and its surrounding province were the focus of a U.S. troop buildup last year, and military officials claimed to have made significant gains against insurgents from several key districts surrounding the city, which the Taliban movement considers its spiritual home.
Afghanistan has seen more than a half dozen significant bombings in the past week as NATO and U.S. troops continue to target insurgent strongholds in the south and east.
On Friday, NATO officials confirmed they had captured a Taliban leader during a security operation in Kandahar’s Maiwand district Wednesday.
They said Afghan and coalition forces also captured Taliban leaders in eastern Logar and Wardak provinces this week, and a Haqqani Network leader in eastern Paktika province who helped move fighters and supplies for his group and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
Special correspondent Aimal Yaqubi contributed to this report.