Taliban says deadly attack targeted top U.S. commander in Afghanistan

Hannah Rogers
October 19, 2018

The gunman killed the powerful Kandahar police chief and at least one other senior Afghan official but missed the top USA commander in the country, Gen. Scott Miller.

Details of what happened at the provincial governor's compound in Kandahar city on Thursday continue to emerge.

The shooter, who served as the Governor's bodyguard, was also killed in the incident.

The officials were fired upon after the talks when they were heading towards the helipad, local media reported, adding that the shots came from one of the nearby buildings.

General Miller said in a tweet: "Today I lost a great friend LTG Raziq. Initial reports also say the attacker is dead", said Col. Knut Peters, a Resolute Support mission spokesman, in an email to NPR.

The commander of US forces in Afghanistan escaped unhurt today after a gunman opened fire on officials leaving a high-profile meeting that included Gen. Austin "Scott" Miller.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid in a statement claimed responsibility behind the attack and said the attack was carried out an infiltrator of the group Abu Dujana.

"People and the security forces of Afghanistan have been paying a heavy price due to continued instability and threats from the enemies of peace", Imran Khan said in a statement. General Miller is uninjured.

In general, in Afghanistan, the rural areas outside the city are considered to be much harder to secure and many of them are under Taliban influence or control.

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Two Americans, including one US service member, were wounded.

The US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Friday the killing of a powerful police chief in southern Afghanistan just two days before elections is unlikely to fundamentally weaken the security situation.

Asked how the attack would affect voter turnout in Saturday's parliamentary elections, Mr. Mattis was cautious.

Afghanistan is on high alert ahead of the long-delayed legislative elections, scheduled for October 20, after the Taliban pledged to attack the ballot.

He was accused of abuses, including torturing Taliban inmates, but had brought reasonable security in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban militants.

The election process has already been marred by bloody violence, with hundreds killed or wounded in recent months.

Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops in Afghanistan, who was present at Thursday's meeting, was unhurt in the incident. Still, Mr. Mattis said he believed the attack would not affect Miller's security arrangements or the movement of the US military in Afghanistan.

Jabar Qahraman, an election candidate in the southern province in Afghanistan, was killed in his campaign office on Wednesday after explosives kept under his sofa blew up.

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