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Suicide bombing planned in Pakistan, Afghan leader says

Karzai suggests the attack was planned and ordered by Pakistan's intelligence service. The Taliban has claimed responsibility.

December 08, 2012|By David Zucchino | This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai points to a journalist during a news conference at the presidential palace in Kabul.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai points to a journalist during a news conference… (Ahmad Jamshid / Associated…)

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday the suicide bombing that seriously wounded his nation's spy chief was planned in Pakistan, an accusation that further strained tensions between the neighboring countries.

Karzai did not directly accuse the Pakistani government. He told reporters at the presidential palace that he intended to raise the issue with Pakistan.

Afghan officials often accuse Pakistan of meddling in Afghanistan by supporting the Taliban and attempting to undercut the U.S.-backed government in Kabul. The Afghan intelligence chief, Asadullah Khalid, is a fierce critic of Pakistan.

[Updated 8:48 a.m. Dec. 8: Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry issued a short statement Saturday brushing aside any suggestion of involvement by Pakistan’s intelligence community in the attack.

"Before leveling charges, the Afghan government would do well if they shared information or evidence with the government of Pakistan that they may have with regard to the cowardly act" against Khalid, the statement said. "They would also do well by ordering an investigation into any lapses in the security arrangements around the [intelligence] chief. On its part, the government of Pakistan is ready to assist in any investigation of this criminal act."]

Khalid was wounded by a suicide bomber posing as a Taliban emissary seeking to discuss the faltering peace dialogue between the Kabul government and the insurgent group. The Afghan intelligence service, the Directorate of National Security, said the bomber hid explosives in his genital area.

The attack, which Karzai called  "a very sophisticated and complicated act by a professional intelligence service," was carried out at a Directorate of National Security guest house in Kabul.

"Where is this intelligence service?" Karzai asked. "Is it in our neighborhood or somewhere else? We need to find out."

Afghan officials often refer to "neighbors" when seeking to blame Pakistan.

"We will be seeking clarifications from Pakistan because we know that this man who came in the name of a guest to meet with Asadullah Khalid came from Pakistan," Karzai added. "We know that for a fact."

Karzai offered no evidence for the statement.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Karzai said the insurgents could not have pulled off the bombing on their own.

"Such a complicated attack and a bomb hidden inside his body, this is not Taliban work," Karzai said.  "It’s completely professional.... Talbian cannot do that. There are bigger and professional hands involved."

The Kabul bombing was similar to a September 2011 attack, claimed by the Taliban, that killed former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani and four other members of the government-backed High Peace Council seeking negotiations with the Taliban. That attacker hid explosives in his turban.

Karzai’s accusations against Pakistan come as the Kabul government is attempting peace negotiations with the Taliban. Pakistan signaled last month that it would support the process, releasing 13 Taliban officials it had jailed.

Pakistani officials have said they would consider releasing Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the No. 2 Afghan Taliban leader. On Saturday, Karzai demanded Baradar’s release as a way for Pakistan to prove its commitment to what he called "a real and genuine peace process."

Afghan officials have said they expect Khalid to recover. Karzai said he visited Khalid at a hospital in Kabul late Thursday. On Friday, Gen. John R. Allen, commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, visited the spy chief after he was transferred to a U.S. military medical facility at Bagram Air Base.

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