The Taliban took to Twitter this morning to claim responsibility for the assassination of an Afghan election official. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid made the announcement in a tweet posted early Wednesday, marking what is believed to be the first time that the insurgent group has used Twitter to claim responsibility for an attack.
Police in the northern province of Kunduz confirmed to the New York Times that Mohammad Amanullah died early Wednesday after sustaining fatal injuries from two gunmen riding on a motorcycle. Amanullah was the head of the Kunduz office of Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC), a position he held since 2003.
امروز ۹ بجه قبل از ظهر درمنطقهء تخارستان شهر کندز رئيس کميسيون انتخابات اين ولایت اينجينيرمحمدامان ازطرف مجاهدين به ضرب ګلوله به قتل رسيد .— zabihullahmujahid (@zabihmujahid) September 18, 2013
"At 9 AM this morning, Engineer Mohammad Aman head of Kunduz Independent Election Commission was killed by our Mujahedeen in Takharistan area of Kunduz city," reads the tweet, as translated by the Times. Commission officials also confirmed Amanullah's death, but told the Times that it's still too soon to determine whether the Taliban should be held responsible.
"We will wait until the investigation is completed by the security organs and then say who was behind this attack," said Noor Ahmad Noor, spokesman for the IEC. "He was a noble person and a good colleague."
Afghanistan's presidential elections will be held on April 5th, but the period for candidates to officially enter the race opened on Monday. The Taliban has publicly scorned the elections, with leader Mullah Mohammad Omar describing them as a "waste of time," but the Islamic fundamentalist group has so far refrained from threatening violence against IEC workers. Accoriding to Noor, today's assassination marks the first time that an election official has been attacked in at least two years.
Today's attack — and the Taliban's public boasting about it — suggest that the group may take a more openly hostile stance toward next year's elections, which will name a successor to incumbent President Hamid Karzai. It also speaks to the Taliban's growing presence on social media. Mujahid joined Twitter in 2012, and has become very active on the site in recent weeks. Last year, an internal report from the Australian military revealed that the Taliban have become more active on Facebook, as well, using the social network to gather intelligence and spy on soldiers.