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KABUL: Afghanistan’s intelligence chief has been moved to a US-run military hospital near Kabul where he is in a stable condition after a Taliban assassination attempt, security sources said yesterday.
Asadullah Khalid, who heads the National Directorate of Security (NDS), was targeted by a suicide bomber posing as a Taliban peace envoy in a spy agency guesthouse in the upscale Kabul district of Taimani on Thursday.
“We can confirm that he has been moved to the hospital at Bagram,” a spokesman for Nato’s International Security Assistance Force said, without providing further details.
Bagram, around 60 kilometres (35 miles) north of Kabul, is a huge airbase run by US troops based in Afghanistan as part of the Nato mission.
Security sources speaking on condition of anonymity said that Khalid was in a “stable” and “satisfactory” condition.
Khalid was rushed into surgery at an NDS hospital after the attack. He was visited by President Hamid Karzai, signalling his importance in the fight against the Taliban as Nato forces prepare to withdraw in 2014.
Some officials said Khalid was seriously wounded in the stomach and the head, but surgeons told the president that Khalid’s injuries were not life threatening.
The fact that an assassin was able to penetrate the security surrounding one of Afghanistan’s most prominent targets raises the question of whether the visitor was an insider known to Khalid.
No information about the attacker has been released by the government, but the Taliban named him in a statement as “hero mujahid Hafiz Mohammad”.
Last year, the head of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, Burhanuddin Rabbani, was assassinated by bomber posing as a Taliban peace envoy with explosives in his turban.
Khalid, known as a fierce anti-Taliban figure and close to Karzai, had only been in the job for a couple of months before Thursday’s attack.