PUL-I-ALAM, Afghanistan |
PUL-I-ALAM, Afghanistan (Reuters) – An attack on a mosque killed the governor of Logar Province south of the Afghan capital on Tuesday, officials said, as he was making an address on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack on governor Arsala Jamal. Police and government officials said others in the mosque were killed or wounded, but the number of casualties was unclear.
“When the governor was giving a speech it detonated. He is martyred and three people are wounded,” said his spokesman, Mohammad Darwish. He later said one other person had been killed.
Darwish said the bomb had been planted inside the mosque and detonated remotely, but police said the explosion was set off by a suicide bomber.
Logar is a strategic province a short distance south of Kabul.
Insurgents have stepped up attacks on officials linked to the government ahead of the withdrawal of foreign combat troops next year.
Just over a month ago, a district governor in the northern province of Kunduz was killed in a similar attack. In mid-September, the election watchdog head in Kunduz was also shot dead after warning violence threatened the legitimacy of the election.
The Taliban’s elusive leader urged fighters to step up the revolt against the government in his Eid message, delivered via email ahead of the religious holidays.
“My advice to all mujahideen is to stand up to the enemy firmer than before,” Mullah Omar said in his message, referring to Muslim holy fighters.
He also warned against signing a security pact with the United States that will help determine how many foreign troops stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
(Additional reporting by Mirwais Harooni and Hamid Shalizi in Kabul; Writing by Jessica Donati; Editing by Ron Popeski)