Karzai calls on Afghans to decry violence after official, 5 Afghans killed by suicide bomber

By Amir Shah, AP
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Eastern Afghan official, 5 others killed by bomber

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide car bomber killed a deputy governor and five others Tuesday in eastern Afghanistan, police said. In an emotional speech, President Hamid Karzai urged Afghans to decry such violence and fretted that young people will choose to flee their country.

The explosion occurred when the official was driving in Ghazni city toward his office, said Ghazni province Police Chief Zarawar Zahid. The bomber rammed a motorized rickshaw into one of the vehicles in the two-car convoy, sparking a large blast.

The dead included Deputy Gov. Khazim Allayar, his adult son, a nephew and a bodyguard, Zahid said. Two civilians nearby were also killed in the blast and a number of others wounded, he said. Police had previously said that all of the dead were inside the vehicle.

Afghan government officials are prime targets for the Taliban and other insurgent groups that have instituted an assassination campaign against people who work with either the Afghan government or NATO forces.

Allayar had held the post for more than seven years. He survived a bombing attempt just two months ago in Ghazni city.

Karzai called on his fellow Afghans to decry such violence during a speech in the capital about literacy efforts in the country.

“Our sons cannot go to school because of bombs and suicide attacks. Our teachers cannot go to school because of clashes and threats of assassination. Schools are closed,” he said. Karzai said he worries that those among Afghanistan’s youth who can flee have no choice but to abandon their country. They go to school abroad and then become estranged from Afghanistan.

“I don’t want my son Mirwais to be a foreigner. I want Mirwais to be Afghan,” Karzai said, breaking into tears on the podium. Wiping his face, he asked Afghans not to use war as an excuse to let their country fall apart and to build up their homeland despite the difficulties. To the Taliban he said: “My countrymen, do not destroy your own soil to benefit others.”

He said that the people of Afghanistan, buffeted by war for decades, are once again victims in the current fight.

“Now NATO is here and they say they are fighting terrorism, and this is the 10th year and there is no result yet,” he said, explaining that Afghans are caught up in the violence between the goals of Western powers and militants backed by other countries.

“Whoever has any problem, they come to Afghanistan to find a solution,” he said.

Much of the anger at outsiders comes from the tense relationship between Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, which militants use as a safe haven for launching attacks and planning strategy.

Karzai has regularly called on the international community to spend more effort chasing down insurgents across the border in Pakistan, a contentious issue because NATO forces do not want to be seen as an invading force. The international coalition has therefore depended mostly on drones for attacks in Pakistan, but manned aircraft have also crossed the border in pursuit of insurgents.

Most recently, Pakistan has been protesting NATO helicopter strikes that killed more than 70 militants last week, saying that U.N. rules do not allow the choppers to cross into its airspace even in hot pursuit of insurgents.

NATO said it launched the strikes in self-defense after militants attacked a small security post in Afghanistan near the border.

The dispute over the strikes only fuels unease between the two countries. The Pakistani military has fought Pakistani Taliban fighters, but it has resisted pressure to move against the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network. The Haqqanis, who control vast stretches of territory in North Waziristan and the bordering Afghan province of Khost, carry out attacks in Afghanistan — but not in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Karzai’s office said it was looking into the possible deaths of civilians in Laghman province, northeast of Kabul. NATO forces said one Afghan civilian was killed by a coalition service member in Laghman’s Alishing district Sunday. It said an investigation is ongoing into the circumstances of the man’s death.

Civilian deaths are a very sensitive issue in Afghanistan. Protests were held in Laghman after about 30 insurgents were killed during an operation involving a combined force of more than 250 Afghan army, Afghan police and coalition soldiers last week. NATO said no civilians were harmed in that operation.

(This version CORRECTS Corrects that two of those killed were civilians, not bodyguards. Adds that a motorized rickshaw was used in the attack. Corrects long headline to six killed, instead of five)

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