RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan
October 18, 2018
The police chief and intelligence head of the southern Afghan province of Kandahar have been killed in a shooting attack, officials say, in a major blow to the West-backed government in Kabul.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the October 18 assault that came just two days before parliamentary elections.
Afghan officials told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan that a bodyguard opened fire after a meeting in the governor’s compound between senior Afghan and U.S. security officials.
The powerful police chief of Kandahar, General Abdul Raziq, and the provincial intelligence head, Abdul Momin, were shot and killed, they said.
There were conflicting reports about the fate of governor Zalmai Wesa, with several lawmakers saying all three men had been killed.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a short speech confirmed the deaths of the police and intelligence chiefs, but didn’t mention the governor.
NATO Resolute Support spokesman Grant Neely told RFE/RL that the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, was present at the meeting but was unhurt.
Colonel Dave Butler, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said “three Americans were wounded, have been medically evacuated and are stable.”
Butler said the gunman had been killed and that Afghan officials were the “target of the violence.”
Around 14,000 U.S. troops are currently in Afghanistan, and Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner told Reuters that the attack in Kandahar “will not change U.S. resolve in our South Asia strategy, [and] if anything it makes us more resolute.”
The Taliban claimed responsibility in a statement, saying, “The brutal police chief of Kandahar has been killed along several other officials.”
“The target was General Miller and General Raziq,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter.
An Afghan journalist working for state media was also killed, according to NAI, a group supporting open media in the country.
Raziq was one of Afghanistan’s most powerful commanders with a fearsome reputation as an enemy of the Taliban.
A close ally of the U.S. military, Raziq, has been credited with pacifying large swaths of Kandahar but has been accused by human rights groups of gross human rights violations, including forcible disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings.
Afghanistan is on high alert ahead of the long-delayed parliamentary elections on October 20, after the Taliban pledged to block the vote.
More than 2,500 candidates are competing for 249 seats in the lower house of parliament.
The run-up to the elections has been marred by deadly militant attacks and targeted killings of candidates, 10 of whom have been killed so far.
With reporting by Reuters and AFP
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