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Bomber in Afghanistan targets intelligence chief, kills child

October 17, 2011 |  4:21 am

Afghan policemen inspect at the site of a suicide bombing in Maimana in Faryab province
REPORTING FROM KABUL -- The suicide bomber was intent on assassinating an intelligence official. Instead, the explosion killed an Afghan schoolchild.

Attacks like the one on Monday in the northern province of Faryab fit a grimly familiar pattern. Afghan government officials -- particularly those associated with the security services -- are squarely in the gun sights of insurgent groups. Hundreds of them have been targeted for assassination, with the rate of such attacks rising sharply over the last two years.

But civilian bystanders are at high risk of being caught up in these strikes, especially because they often take place as the intended victim is being driven to or from work, when ordinary people are also on their way to jobs or school.

The target of Monday's suicide blast was Sayed Ahmad Sadaat, the head of the Faryab branch of the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s main intelligence service. He survived the attack and was reported in fair condition.

Five other intelligence officers were hurt in the explosion that hit Sadaat’s vehicle at about 8 a.m. in the provincial capital, Maimana. Two civilian passersby were also wounded.

The only fatality was the schoolboy, who was 8 years old, said Ahmad Jawid Bedar, a spokesman for the provincial government.

Faryab is one of a swath of once-quiet provinces in Afghanistan’s north where the Taliban and other insurgent groups have been working to consolidate their grip.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force denied last week that security has deteriorated in the north. But local officials in the region say attacks like this one demonstrate the insurgents’ ability to strike even in relatively well-guarded provincial capitals where NATO troops are present, and that insurgents operate with near impunity in wide tracts of countryside, where Afghan police provide the sole protection.  

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-- Laura King

Photo: Afghan policemen inspect at the site of a suicide bombing in Maimana in Faryab province. Credit: Getty Images

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