Taliban assassinate the head of Afghan government’s media department

The Taliban assassinated the Afghanistan government’s top media and information officer in the capital, Kabul, the group’s spokesman and Afghan officials said.

The killing on Friday of Dawa Khan Minapal, the head of the government media and information centre, came days after the Taliban warned it would target senior administration officials in retaliation for increased air raids.

“Unfortunately, the savage terrorists have committed a cowardly act once again and martyred a patriotic Afghan,” interior ministry spokesman Mirwais Stanikzai said.

Minapal had also served as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the death, with spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid sending a message to media saying “he was killed in a special attack carried out by mujahideen”.

The murder comes after the militants warned of more attacks targeting Afghan government leaders, a day after the defence minister Bismillah Mohammadi escaped an assassination attempt in a bomb-and-gun attack.

The Taliban have intensified clashes with Afghan forces and targeted militias allied with the government.

The Taliban already control large portions of the countryside, and are now challenging government forces in several provincial capitals.