KABUL, Afghanistan -- A powerful remote-controlled bomb ripped through a car carrying a district governor in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing him and three bodyguards, Afghan officials said, in the latest example of government officials and community leaders being targeted for death by insurgents.
More than 155 such assassinations have taken place in the first half of this year, according to a recent United Nations report, an increase of more than 50% over the same period last year.
The attack took place at midday, when Faridullah Neyazai, the governor of Alishing district of Laghman province, was on his way to the district capital of Mehtarlam, said provincial spokesman Sarhadi Zowak. He said the remote-controlled explosive specifically targeted Neyazai.
Also Sunday, intelligence officials said they had foiled what was meant to be a major attack in Kabul, the Afghan capital. The National Directorate for Security, or NDS, said five would-be suicide bombers were arrested Saturday evening after authorities uncovered a plot to carry out coordinated attacks on targets including the Afghan parliament, and raided a compound where weapons including suicide vests and rocket-propelled grenades were found.
Insurgents have staged a number of high-profile attacks in and near Kabul over the past year, hitting targets such as the U.S. Embassy and the headquarters of the NATO force.
The Pakistan-based Haqqani network, which is active in eastern Afghanistan, is most often blamed for these ambitious assaults.
One of those arrested Saturday was a Pakistani national, the NDS said in a statement, and the plotters were reported to have carried Pakistani currency and contact numbers inside Pakistan.
-- Laura King and Hashmat Baktash
Photo: Afghan security officials inspect the site of a roadside bomb blast targeting the governor for Alisheng district of Laghman province. Credit: Abdul Mueed / EPA