Afghanistan — Assassination Shows Taliban’s Values, Petraeus Says

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2010 — The assas­si­na­tion of the deputy may­or of Kan­da­har, Afghanistan, as he prayed in a mosque this week reflects the val­ues of a bar­bar­ic ene­my, the com­man­der of U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand said in a state­ment released yes­ter­day.

Azizul­lah Yarmal was attend­ing evening prayers April 19 when a death squad entered the mosque and shot him dead before escap­ing.

In his state­ment, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus said the mur­der “demon­strat­ed the Taliban’s bar­barism.”

“That they would kill this Afghan leader while he was attend­ing ser­vices in a mosque illus­trates the Taliban’s cal­lous dis­re­gard for Afghanistan’s val­ues and for Islam itself,” the gen­er­al said. “Through this action, the Tal­iban demon­strat­ed once again that it is an ene­my of Afghanistan that seeks to impose through vio­lence its extrem­ist ide­ol­o­gy and oppres­sive prac­tices on the Afghan peo­ple.”

Yarmal’s assas­si­na­tion was the sec­ond cold-blood­ed Tal­iban mur­der of a local Afghan leader in a week. Tal­iban gun­men also killed Lal Moham­mad Khan, a trib­al leader in neigh­bor­ing Hel­mand province, last week.

In Kab­ul, NATO Ambas­sador to Afghanistan Mark Sed­will not­ed that Yarmal was always push­ing for roads, elec­tric­i­ty and ser­vices for his peo­ple.

“That’s a man who’s try­ing to serve the peo­ple of Afghanistan, and he was killed delib­er­ate­ly by the insur­gents in what is no less than a ter­ror­ist attack,” he said.

The mur­der came as the Afghan gov­ern­ment and secu­ri­ty forces, along with coali­tion forces, seek to make Kan­da­har secure. The city is the sec­ond-largest in Afghanistan, and is the spir­i­tu­al home of the Pash­tu-dom­i­nat­ed Tal­iban.

Offi­cials said oper­a­tions in and around Kan­da­har don’t con­sti­tute an offen­sive in the mil­i­tary sense of the word. Rather, they explained, the Afghan gov­ern­ment and coali­tion per­son­nel are work­ing bring ser­vices and infra­struc­ture improve­ments to the city. The hope is that Afghans will see the Tal­iban are try­ing to stop progress and will side with the gov­ern­ment.

Region­al Com­mand South is the focus of oper­a­tions in Afghanistan this year. British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter com­mands the more than 54,500 coali­tion troops in the region. The bulk of the U.S. 30,000-troop surge will oper­ate in Region­al Com­mand South.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)