N.D.S. head Asadullah Khalid has been wounded in an assassination attempt in Kabul.
Afghan intelligence chief Asadullah Khalid has been wounded in a Taliban suicide bombing in central Kabul.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) chief was injured in his lower body by the blast, interior ministry officials told the BBC.
The blast took place in the Taymeni area. The Taliban said the attacker had posed as a peace messenger.
Mr Khalid leads the country's powerful and at times brutal intelligence network and is a key figure in attempts to defeat the Taliban insurgency. He is a central figure in the Afghan government and seen as one of Mr Karzai's most trusted lieutenants.
The 43-year-old spy chief is an ethnic Pashtun from the central Ghazni Province.
He is considered close to Afghan lawmaker Abdur Rab Rasul Sayyaf, a veteran of the fight against Soviet forces in the 1980s.
Khalid was the governor of Ghazni and Kandahar provinces between 2005 and 2008. He was later appointed to run the Border and Tribal Affairs Ministry -- a post he held until his appointment to the NDS in August.
International human rights organizations have accused him of torture, unlawful killings, and running private prisons. They objected to his appointment as NDS chief and called for an investigation into the allegations against him.
President Hamid Karzai, who is close to Mr. Khalid, visited the hospital soon after the attack, and said in a statement that his condition was improving.
The attempted assassination of the nation's top intelligence official came just as the president described the U.S.-led military coalition as partly responsible for instability in Afghanistan.
"Part of the insecurity is coming to us from the structures that NATO and America created in Afghanistan," Karzai told NBC News in an interview broadcast on Thursday. Terrorism will not be defeated "by attacking Afghan villages and Afghan homes," he said.
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.
Its influence on the conduct of the war is likely to grow as the US and NATO withdraw the vast bulk of their combat troops from the country by the end of 2014 and hand responsibility for the war to Afghan security forces.
Afghanistan's parliament approved the nomination of Khalid as the new head of the NDS in September, an appointment that alarmed human rights groups who have long accused the agency of torturing detainees, allegations it denies.The Washington Post tells us that the Afghan N.D.S. is highly regarded, and is like the F.B.I.:
"We will see more similar attacks in order to further increase uncertainty about 2014. It's part of the psychological warfare by the Taliban," said Davood Moradian, a former presidential adviser and head of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, a think-tank.
Moradian said Khalid was a powerful ally for Karzai since he had built up a formidable network of contacts among the Pashtun community in the south and east of the country, where the insurgency is strongest.
He said Khalid was renowned for his tough stance against the Taliban and his belief that the Afghan government needed to take a tough line with the insurgents in any negotiations.
Human rights groups have been troubled by allegations that Khalid, a close aide of Karzai, ran a torture prison while he was governor of Kandahar. He denies any wrongdoing.
Thursday’s attack was a severe blow to the intelligence service, which is highly regarded and has been intensively trained by American advisers. Its function is similar to that of the FBI.Global Post is maybe even funnier. N.D.S. is sort of like the F.B.I.:
The National Directorate of Security, which is kind of like the FBI, issued at statement, saying, “The director general survived a cowardly terrorist attack.”