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Afghan Election Tensions, New Violence Renew Security Concerns

A top Afghan intelligence official was killed Wednesday in a suicide attack outside of Kabul. The blast came amid new allegations of fraud in the country's presidential election. Gwen Ifill talks to New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins in Kabul.

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    That follows our Afghanistan report.

    Gwen Ifill talked with Dexter Filkins of The New York Times in Kabul earlier today.


    Dexter, thank you for joining us.

    What can you tell us about the suicide bombing in Eastern Afghanistan that we have been reading about?

  • DEXTER FILKINS, The New York Times:

    Well, there was a bombing today, a suicide bombing, killed, I think, 23 people.

    One of them was Abdullah Laghmani, who is the — the deputy chief of intelligence here. He's a very — you know, he's known to be a very capable guy. The intelligence service here is very capable. He was sort of in charge of — of — of — he was the liaison with all the services in the various provinces.

    The Taliban had been trying to kill him for a long time. They bragged about it today after — after he was killed. He's from — his last name is Laghmani, and he's from Laghman Province, which is just east of here, which is a pretty quiet place. And he had gone home.

    He was meeting some local people in a mosque. And, as he walked out, a suicide bomber just came out of nowhere and pulled the pin, big bomb, big bomb, and — and killed him and 22 other people.

    The Taliban put out a communiqué shortly afterwards saying, you know, we did it.


    What does the targeting of such a senior intelligence official tell us about security there?


    Well, he wasn't in Kabul. I mean, Kabul is pretty safe. I mean, I'm in Kabul here.

    I just heard a couple of mortar explosions before — just a few minutes ago, before the broadcast started, but it's pretty safe here. He's out in the countryside. And — and, really, whenever you leave the capital, it's not very safe.

    I mean, Laghman is safer than other places. But, you know, the Taliban have been hunting this guy for a long time. And they wanted him dead. And, you know, all it took was just a — a brief opening. And, if you're willing to blow yourself up, it's kind of hard to protect against that sort of thing. So, I don't think it tells you much, except, you know, that the Taliban is pretty ruthless and they're pretty determined.


    There's been much discussion on this side of the Atlantic about General McChrystal's report, which is laying groundwork for what people expect to be the sending of more troops to Afghanistan.

    How is that being received, if it is at all, on the ground? You have been spending some time with the troops.


    Yes, well, I have just — I have just come from — from Helmand Province, which is where the 10,000 Marines just — just went.

    Boy, it's very, very hard there. You know, I was embedded with the 2nd Battalion of the Eighth Regiment. We were just south of a city called Garmsir along the Helmand River. They're fighting every day. You know, it's 125 degrees in the shade. There's a lot of IEDs.

    I mean, I think that battalion has only been there for seven weeks now, and I — they have lost about 15 guys, I think. It's very, very hard. And I think if you — if I just take the guys that I was with, you know, there — there's probably 250 guys, a pretty — it was a big company of Marines.

    And they are trying to secure an area that basically goes for about three kilometers in each direction, and that's it. I mean, that's 250 guys and three clicks either way. That's not very many. And that just shows you kind of what they're up against.

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