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Afghan spy chief in surgery after assassination bid

Afghanistan's head of intelligence was wounded in an assassination attempt claimed by the Taliban today just months after he took office as Kabul seeks to navigate the impending departure of NATO combat troops. Asadullah Khalid, who heads the National Directorate of Security (NDS), was injured in an attack by a visitor in a spy agency guesthouse in the upscale Kabul district of Taimani, security sources told AFP. Khalid was rushed into surgery but his life was not in danger, presidency spokesman Aimal Faizi told AFP.

Afghanistan’s head of intelligence was wounded in an assassination attempt claimed by the Taliban today just months after he took office as Kabul seeks to navigate the impending departure of NATO combat troops. Asadullah Khalid, who heads the National Directorate of Security (NDS), was injured in an attack by a visitor in a spy agency guesthouse in the upscale Kabul district of Taimani, security sources told AFP. Khalid was rushed into surgery but his life was not in danger, presidency spokesman Aimal Faizi told AFP. President Hamid Karzai visited the hospital where surgeons “assured the president that he is stable and his injury is not life threatening”, the spokesman said. There were earlier conflicting reports on Khalid’s condition, with some officials saying he was seriously wounded in the stomach and the head. The Taliban claimed he was in a coma after one of its fighters carried out a suicide attack. Afghan officials were also tight-lipped on the nature of the attack. Police said Khalid was wounded by a grenade. Afghan security sources said the visitor, who had been searched before being allowed into the guesthouse, was killed in the explosion. There were also unconfirmed reports from senior Afghan government officials that it had been a suicide attack. Karzai strongly condemned the “cowardly” attack by terrorists, his spokesman said. The Taliban claimed that one of its suicide bombers targeted Khalid. “As a result of a suicide attack carried out by hero mujahedeen Hafiz Mohammad inside a guest house, a large number of intelligence officials were injured,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an email to AFP. “Intelligence chief Asadullah Khalid was the primary target and according to our information is in a coma,” he added. The NDS plays a crucial role in the fight against the Taliban, who have been waging an insurgency since being ousted from power by the 2001 US-led invasion for harbouring al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks.

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