KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Taliban suicide bomber posing as a messenger of peace blew himself up near Afghanistan's newly appointed intelligence chief on Thursday, seriously wounding him, officials said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on Asadullah Khalid — the fifth such assassination attempt on his life in as many years, the officials added.
"Thank God, he's OK. It's positive," President Hamid Karzai told reporters outside a medical facility run by the National Directorate of Security where Khalid had surgery. "Now there is hope that he'll get healthy again."
The attempted assassination of the nation's top intelligence official came just as the president described the U.S.-led military coalition as partly responsible for instability in Afghanistan.
"Part of the insecurity is coming to us from the structures that NATO and America created in Afghanistan," Karzai told NBC News in an interview broadcast on Thursday. Terrorism will not be defeated "by attacking Afghan villages and Afghan homes," he said.
Shafiqullah Tahiri, a spokesman for the intelligence service, said that the bomber had used the false peace offer as a ruse to close in on the intelligence chief.
The bombing was reminiscent of the September 2011 killing of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who at the time was the leader of a government-appointed peace council seeking reconciliation with militants. In that attack, an insurgent posing as a Taliban peace envoy detonated a bomb that was hidden in his turban as he met Rabbani at his home in Kabul.
Khalid, in his early 40s, suffered serious injuries to his stomach and lower part of the body when the bomb exploded at his guest house as he was receiving a visitor, a senior Afghan official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the information. The intelligence chief had used the house for private meetings he preferred not to hold at his agency's official compound, he added.
The bomber passed through at least one check without the explosives being discovered, the official said. The house was not as heavily guarded as the agency's compound, he added.
Shuja Momuzai, 31, who manages a house a couple doors from Khalid's guest house, said he heard an explosion shortly after 3 p.m., after which he saw Khalid being evacuated.
He said that people in the neighborhood knew Khalid used the house, which had at least two perimeter walls.
Karzai said Khalid would be sent elsewhere for further treatment, implying that he could be transferred outside the country.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the intelligence chief was the target of a suicide bombing carried out by an attacker named Hafez Mohammad.