Taliban attack kills top Afghan officials, U.S. general unhurt

The writer is a retired lieutenant general of the Pakistan Army and a former federal secretary. He has also served as chairman of the Pakistan Ordnance Factories Board

The writer is a retired lieutenant general of the Pakistan Army and a former federal secretary. He has also served as chairman of the Pakistan Ordnance Factories Board

Gen. Austin Scott Miller, who commands USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops in Afghanistan, escaped unharmed after an attack targeted a meeting of senior officials at the governor's palace in Kandahar Thursday.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spokesperson Colonel Knut Peters said Miller, who took command of US and forces and the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan last month, was uninjured.

A gunman wearing an Afghan army uniform opened fire Thursday on participants in a meeting with the top USA commander in Afghanistan, killing three top southern provincial officials and wounding at least three Americans, officials said.

The Afghan media reports said that the Police Chief General Abdul Raziq and the Local Intelligence Head were killed immediately in the attack while the governor died of injuries in the hospital.

The Taliban claimed responsibility in a statement, saying, "The brutal police chief of Kandahar has been killed along several other officials".

Razeq, a survivor of numerous previous attacks, was killed outside the governor's office in the southern province on Thursday, when a bodyguard opened fire on a group of officials as they left a meeting.

In January previous year, the visiting ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, five other UAE diplomats and some local officials were killed by explosives hidden in a government building in Kandahar.

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The attack comes ahead of elections on Saturday. The gunfire wounded the provincial governor, another police commander and three Americans, Afghan officials said.

Two Americans were injured in the attack (earlier reports put the number at three; the third was apparently a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation coalition but not from the United States).

Mattis was cautious about whether the attack could hit turnout but said the US aim of finding a negotiated, Afghan-led political solution to the conflict was unchanged. But he said he believes the Afghan security forces have matured to the point where they can continue fighting the Taliban without him.

The recommendation, which must be approved by the national security council before taking effect, deals a severe blow to the election process, which was already bedevilled by security threats as well as technical and organisational problems.

Security has been steadily deteriorating in Afghanistan with increasingly brazen attacks being carried out by insurgents and Afghanistan's security forces have been on high alert ahead of Saturday's elections.

"Pakistan stands by the government and the people of Afghanistan in their quest for lasting peace and stability", he said in a statement.

US forces confirmed the attack, casting it as "Afghan on Afghan" violence. The Taliban claimed the attack and said Miller was the target.

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