KABUL, Afghanistan, July 31 (UPI) -- The killing of an imam in a mosque in Afghanistan during the holy month of Ramadan was roundly criticized by the head of coalition troops in the country.
"Only the forces of Mullah [Mohammed] Omar [the spiritual leader of the Taliban] are perpetrating these kinds of murders," U.S. Gen. John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force, said Monday in a statement. "It is correct to ask where is his moral authority to lead when his henchmen transgress against the faith of Islam in such a blatant and heinous manner."
At least five people died Monday in southern Uruzgan province following an explosion in a mosque, Khaama Press reported. An Afghan judge also was killed.
"Where is his [Omar's] outrage at this offense against innocent Afghans and their religious scholars?" Allen asked rhetorically. "And why does he not publicly condemn this act, or discipline the thugs of his movement?"
Khaama Press said Monday no one, including Taliban militants, claimed responsibility. However, local officials typically assign blame to a Taliban group for such incidents because of the type of explosives used and targets selected.
Omar was Afghanistan's de facto leader from 1996 until late 2001, holding the official title of "Head of the Supreme Council." He is believed to be directing the Taliban insurgency against the U.S.-led NATO forces and the government of Afghanistan.