What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

A violent end to this week in Uruzgan

MStFB Uruzgan Series update
Just in from AP, via Yahoo - an excerpt taken from a daily AP review of developments in Afghanistan, the whole report currently available here:

Insurgents took Mullah Ahmed Akhunzada, the director of a provincial clerics council, from his home and killed him Saturday night in Tirin Kot, said Uruzgan provincial police chief Gen. Qasim Khan.

Mullah Obaidullah, the Taliban's regional commander from Uruzgan, claimed responsibility for the incident in a call to The Associated Press and said Akhunzada was killed because he supported the Afghan government.

Mullah Ahmed Akhunzada is of course not the first mullah to be assassinated in this war. You can read about a whole series of killings targeting mullahs who spoke out against the Taliban, from 2005, e.g. here (based on the referred article you'll see that this assassination wasn't the first of this kind attempted in Uruzgan, either, of course), or here, under the title 'Taliban threat unnerves clerics in Afghanistan'. What strikes me in this case is how this assassination comes relatively closely on the heels of a June 15 Tarin Kowt car bombing, which killed five local children beside also killing a Dutch soldier, coming shortly before the Jumu'ah communal prayer of that Friday day, turning out to be just a prelude to major fighting that took place thereafter for about six days around the town of Chora, directly following this car bomb attack. One wonders if mullah Ahmed Akhunzada might have said something critical in the wake of that attack that led to his assassination?
This wasn't the only violent incident in Uruzgan over the last couple of days, however. An Afghan National Police unit, together with coalition troops, fought to beat back an ambush on Friday. Air strikes and artillery fire were used in the process, in an unnamed, but statedly sparsely inhabited area of the province. 33 insurgents are claimed dead.
P.S. The mullah Obaidullah referred to in the AP report, I have to assume (?), is not the former Talib defence minister mullah Obaidullah "Akhund" (Akhund is a miltary rank essentially; the late mullah Dadullah had the same title), who was arrested in Pakistan this March.
Update (July 11): According to this article (in Dutch) the slain mullah did more than just criticise the Taliban. He commanded the loyalty of some local militia people and could thus provide Uruzgan authorities and ISAF with some useful support - most likely, I would guess, through having his armed followers join the ranks of the Afghan police, where most militia people are employed nowadays.

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