Taliban claims deadly attack on Kandahar security meeting, killing three leading Afghan officials

Taliban claims deadly attack on Kandahar security meeting, killing three leading Afghan officials
A US general has escaped an assassination attempt that took the lives of three top Afghan officials.
3 min read
18 October, 2018
Kandahar police chief Abdul Raziq was killed in the shooting [AFP]

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for an attack on a high-level security meeting in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, which killed three high-profile officials.

Kandahar's police chief, the provincial governor, and the local intelligence chief were among at least three killed in the shooting.

"The target was General Miller and General Raziq," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter.

Abdul Raziq, the police chief in the southern province of Kandahar, was killed in the attack, Afghan officials confirmed.

NATO, meanwhile, announced that US General Scott Miller escaped the attack unscathed.

Security forces swarmed the southern city of Kandahar after the shooting that shuttered shops and sent terrified civilians - already on high alert for attacks - into their homes.

Six of Raziq's bodyguards and two intelligence officers were also wounded in the attack that was carried out by one of the governor's security personnel, the official said.

The shooter has been killed, he added, while an Afghan journalist working for state media also died, media support group NAI said in a statement.

An Afghan security official told AFP the attack happened as the officials, including Miller, were leaving the meeting. Miller was not hurt in the shooting, NATO's Resolute Support mission spokesman Colonel Knut Peters said in a statement.

Another witness said the city was "full of military forces". "They don't allow anyone to come out of their houses," he told AFP.

Raziq, an anti-Taliban strongman, was widely seen as a bulwark against the insurgency in Kandahar, the militant group's birthplace, and had previously survived multiple assassination attempts. He long controlled the province with an iron hand and was accused of running secret torture chambers, an allegation he denied.

Afghanistan is tense ahead of the 20 October legislative election after the Taliban pledged to attack the ballot.

More than 2,500 candidates are competing for 249 seats in the lower house, including doctors, mullahs, and the sons of former warlords.

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

At least ten candidates have been killed so far, including Abdul Jabar Qahraman who was blown up on Wednesday by a bomb placed under his sofa in the southern province of Helmand.

The election is seen as a rehearsal for the presidential vote scheduled for April and an important milestone ahead of a UN meeting in Geneva in November, where Afghanistan is under pressure to show progress on "democratic processes".