x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Wounded Afghan spy chief to be treated overseas

Afghanistan's spy chief will be evacuated abroad for specialist treatment after being wounded by a Taliban suicide bomber, the government said today as further details emerged of the attack.

KABUL // Afghanistan's spy chief will be evacuated abroad for specialist treatment after being wounded by a Taliban suicide bomber, the government said today as further details emerged of the attack.

President Hamid Karzai told his national security team that Asadullah Khalid's condition was improving at a US-run military hospital near Kabul, but that he will be flown abroad for better treatment.

A statement from the presidential palace didn't specify which country Mr. Khalid would be sent to. As some of Khalid's family live in the US it is seen as likely that he will be flown there, an official said.

Mr. Khalid was wounded on Thursday by a man posing as a Taliban peace envoy, who detonated a bomb hidden in his underpants at a guest house run by the intelligence agency in Kabul.

A senior government official said Mr. Khalid, who suffered injuries to his abdomen, was unable to speak, but none of his major organs were damaged.

Citing US military doctors, the official said the head of the National Directorate of Security, or NDS, was expected to remain in the hospital for up to three months.

Based on the witness account of a man who survived the attack, the official said the attacker was about a meter from the spy chief when he detonated the bomb.

"When Khalid arrived, the bomber was eating with another guy from the NDS," he said.

"Khalid arrived with another colleague named Massoud. At the beginning the attacker seemed like he was not sure which one was Khalid.

"At this stage, Khalid's phone rang. From his talking on the phone, the bomber appeared to recognise him, and approached him and detonated himself."

The president has ordered a committee investigating the attack to report back to him in two days.

Karzai told a news conference on Sunday that the bombing had been planned in neighbouring Pakistan, a charge rejected by Islamabad.