KABUL (AFP) – Two Afghan civilians were killed and several injured following two failed assassination attempts by the Taliban which targeted a provincial governor and a police chief, officials said Saturday.
In the first incident, a remote-controlled bomb rigged to a bridge was detonated early morning as a vehicle transporting Asadullah Shirzad, police chief of the northeastern Baghlan province, passed by, provincial police spokesman Ahmad Jawed Basharat told AFP.
"It was very close, the bomb planted under the bridge detonated seconds after the police chief's car passed over it, thank God he is unhurt, but sadly two civilian bypassers were killed, and one policeman injured," he said.
Hours later a vehicle carrying Khairullah Anosh, governor of the northern Samangan province, hit another improvised explosive device as the politician was heading to work in the provincial capital Aibak.
"As a result of the attack, the governor along with his two bodyguards were slightly wounded," his spokesman Sediq Aziz said.
The Taliban, who have been fighting a decade-long insurgency to overthrow the Western-backed Kabul government, claimed responsibility for both attacks and vowed to continue targeting the officials.
"They are strong supporters of foreign forces and enemies of the Taliban," spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement.
"They escaped this time, but they will be punished and killed the next time," he said in the statement.
Taliban insurgents have carried out a campaign of assassinations of pro-government figures and warned Afghans to distance themselves from the government.
On Friday a suicide bomber on a motorbike detonated himself in a busy marketplace in eastern Ghazni province in an apparent attempt to kill an influential local anti-Taliban leader, Dawlat Khan.
Khan, who led a group of militiamen who were taking on the Taliban in several villages in the province was killed in the deadly blast along with three of his bodyguards and three civilians, officials confirmed.
Government forces have formally taken responsibility for security from US-led NATO troops who are due to leave the country next year. But there are concerns about their ability to stand against the Taliban unaided.
Afghanistan's 350,000-strong security forces are suffering a steep rise in attacks as the NATO combat mission winds down.