Matiullah’s death seen as a blow to Uruzgan security
KABUL (Pajhwok): Residents on Thursday called the assassination of the police chief for central Uruzgan province a major blow to the security situation.
A burqa-clad suicide bomber killed the influential police chief, Matiullah Khan, on Wednesday night in Kabul City’s sixth police district at around 9pm, the Ministry of Interior said.
In a brief statement, the ministry directed its anti-crime department officials to thoroughly investigate Khan’s assassination.
Earlier, Wolesi Jirga member Obaidullah Barakzai told Pajhwok Afghan News the attack on Matiullah Khan was carried out in the Dasht-i-Barchi area. He said the body of Khan would be soon sent to his home province for funeral and burial.
The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility for the death of Matiullah Khan as the attack was strongly condemned by President Ashraf Ghani, directing the Ministry of Interior to promptly investigate it.
The president said he would not hesitate from taking every step toward eliminating elements staging such attacks.
A strong ally of the Australian forces, Matiullah was a nephew of Jan Mohammad Khan, who served as governor of Uruzgan from January 2002 to March 2006. A close ally of former president Hamid Karzai, Jan Mohammad Khan was killed in an attack on his home in Kabul by unknown gunmen in July, 2011.
The 40 years old Matiullah was born in Chino area of Tarinkot, the provincial capital. Before President Hamid Karzai’s government, he held no civil or military position, but when Karzai and his followers arrived in Uruzgan between October and November 2001 to take over the control of the area, Matiullah also joined them against the Taliban’s regime.
At that time, Matiullah’s step paternal uncle and jihadi commander, Jan Mohammad Khan, had been in captivity of the Taliban in southern Kandahar province. Karzai and his followers after capturing Uruzgan moved to Kandahar province and got released Jan Mohammad Khan from the prison. Mohammad Khan was then appointed as the governor of Uruzgan in 2002.
Matiullah served as chief security guard for Jan Mohammad Khan and spearheaded clashes against Taliban insurgents in Tarinkot and the districts.
Five years after when Jan Mohammad was removed as the governor, Matiullah was appointed as the commander of the Highway-1 police battalion at the provincial police headquarters. He simultaneously ran a security company which provided security for vehicles carrying logistic supplies for NATO forces in Uruzgan.
With income from his company, Matiullah emerged as a rich and influential person in a short span of time. As his popularity graph surged, foreign media reports claimed Matiullah had earned millions of dollars in few years through his security company.
As commander of the highway-1 battalion and owner of the company, Matiullah had been assisting destitute people, particularly women, with food and cash. Hundreds of people would gather around his home every Friday evening.
Matiullah Khan was declared the leader of the Popalzai tribe after the assassination of Jan Mohammad Khan and he remained a powerful figure.
He was appointed as the police chief of Uruzgan in 2012, a position he held until his death. During this period, romours about his removal as the police chief had repeatedly been circulated, but he remained on the seat owing to his strong ties with Karzai.
As the police commander, he had introduced sufficient reforms to the police department. His efforts led to the reopening of a number of roads which had been blocked by Taliban insurgents, including the Kandahar-Uruzgan highway.
Residents of the province said the comparatively stable security situation in Uruzgan had been a result of Matiullah Khan’s efforts and his death would serve as a big blow to the province’s security.
His clear stance against the Taliban made him known as a reliable official, who was able to attract people’s cooperation with security forces in maintain security.
Residents said Matiullah had blocked the way of many powerful warlords and spared no effort to subdue them. His death would allow these figures to resurface and deteriorate security, they feared.
Matiullah Khan had survived numerous suicide and bomb attacks over the past years. It would be premature to say if someone from his family would be able to fill the gulf created with his death or prove as credible as him.
Khan left behind three wives and four brothers.
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