Combat Claims Afghan Cabinet Minister
An Afghan cabinet minister who was the son of a powerful governor and former Islamic militia commander was assassinated Sunday in a murky confrontation between armed factions in the western city of Herat.
Government television and radio said Mirwais Saddiq, son of Ismail Khan, the governor of Herat province, was shot dead when his car was hit by rockets fired by rebel forces under a senior army commander who had broken with Khan. According to the reports, an attempt to kill Khan earlier in the day had failed, but dozens of other people were killed in the fighting.
Khan, a white-haired former guerrilla leader who fought against the Soviets, commands a large personal militia. He has ruled Herat province like a religious fiefdom for years and refers to himself as the “emir” of the prosperous region close to the Iran border.
Khan has refused to show obedience to central authorities or turn over lucrative income from border customs duties, and he has clashed periodically with army forces sent to the region by Karzai as well as with rival tribal leaders. He has alienated professionals and outraged human rights groups by severely curtailing women’s rights and refusing to share political power.
A tragic loss to humankind, I’m sure.