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Afghan cabinet minister escapes harm in latest attack on officials

July 15, 2012 |  5:59 am

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A convoy carrying several senior Afghan officials, including a cabinet minister and a governor, was hit by a bomb Sunday in northern Afghanistan, the third time in as many days that prominent Afghan politicians were targeted for attack. Unlike in the previous two bombings, no one was killed.

The spate of attacks has drawn condemnations from the Western military and the U.S. Embassy, among others, but there have been no claims of responsibility from the Taliban or other insurgent groups.

In Sunday’s attack in Baghlan province, the bomb was detonated by remote control, leaving little doubt that the official convoy was the intended target, said Mahmood Haqmal, a spokesman for the provincial government. He said two men had been arrested in connection with the attack, but had no details about their possible role.

The convoy was carrying the minister of higher education, Obaidullah Obaid, together with the Baghlan governor, Munshi Abdul Majid. Traveling with them were two members of parliament and the head of the Baghlan provincial council. None of the officials was hurt in the explosion, but two policemen escorting the convoy were injured.

Baghlan borders Samangan province, where an attack a day earlier on a crowded wedding hall killed a prominent member of parliament and at least 18 others. The slain politician was the father of the bride, and was killed when a suicide bomber posing as a well-wisher moved to embrace him.

On Friday, Hanifa Safi, the head of a provincial women’s affairs department and a well-known women’s advocate, was killed in eastern Afghanistan by a bomb that had been affixed to her car. The blast in Laghman province, which left Safi’s husband seriously injured, was under investigation.

In the past, the Taliban and other insurgent groups have mounted concerted assassination campaigns against government officials, seeking to intimidate those who hold public office or other leadership positions and to frighten people into believing the central government and the Afghan security forces cannot protect them. But private, political and ethnic feuds are sometimes responsible for such attacks as well.


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-- Laura King and Aimal Yaqubi

Photo: Afghans inspect a damaged wedding hall that was the site of a bombing in Samangan province Saturday. Credit: Jawed Dehsabzi / Associated Press