AFGHAN authorities are investigating how a man wearing an explosives-packed vest infiltrated the heavily guarded police headquarters in central Kabul yesterday and attempted to assassinate the chief of police.
The suicide bomber’s ability to pass through heavy security and make his way to within metres of General Mohammad Zahir Zahir’s office has revived concerns that insurgents have penetrated Afghanistan’s security and intelligence forces.
The incident was a serious breach of security in the fortified centre of the capital and has highlighted the vulnerability of Kabul to a determined Taleban insurgency as US and Nato troops shift from a combat role to training and support by the end of this year.
An interior ministry spokesman said the incident had raised questions over how someone “wearing a suicide vest had breached security”.
He added: “The man was wearing a civilian suit and had a file in his hand and the suicide vest under his clothes.
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“He was asking police directions to the chief of police’s office, saying he had papers to deliver to him. This is the procedure for anyone who wants to meet with the chief of police, so the police sent him in the right direction.”
Earlier, Gen Zahir had said that the man was wearing a military uniform.
The spokesman said footage from closed-circuit television clearly showed the attacker’s route through the compound.
Gen Zahir was not in his office on the third floor of the building at the time of the attack, at about 9am yesterday morning the spokesman added: “but he was definitely the target”.
Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said that none of its personnel were injured and there were no reports that anyone attached to ISAF had been at the site at the time of the attack.
Gen Zahir’s chief of staff, Colonel Mohammad Yasin, was killed in the attack. At least seven others were wounded, according to police and the health ministry. A spokesman said the wounded included a small child.
The compound is in one of the most heavily guarded areas of Kabul and also houses the office of the Kabul provincial governor, the Appeals Court and police detention centres for men and women.
It is surrounded by high concrete blast walls, with turrets manned by paramilitary police armed with Russian-made PK heavy machine-guns. Visitors must pass through a number of checkpoints, including body searches and X-rays, before reaching the main buildings.
Abdul Jabar Taqwa, the Kabul provincial governor, said windows across the compound were shattered by the blast at police headquarters. “It was a strong blast and shattered the windows in my office,” he added.
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