Gunfire erupts in Afghan governor’s compound after meeting with US commander

Kabul: Gunfire erupted on Thursday in the compound of an Afghan provincial governor shortly after a high-level meeting involving the top US commander in Afghanistan, General Austin “Scott” Miller, Afghan officials said.

At least two US soldiers were reported wounded in the incident, but Miller was said to be unhurt, according to the officials.

Three senior Afghan officials were reported to be among the casualties, but there were conflicting accounts on whether they were killed or wounded.

The shooting broke out in the compound of the governor of the embattled southern province of Kandahar, where the Taliban insurgency has been gaining ground.

A Taliban spokesman said the attack was carried out by the group and that its target was Miller and top Kandahar provincial officials.

The attacker was apparently a man wearing the uniform of an Afghan soldier, who opened fire as the officials were in the governor’s compound following a security meeting about crucial parliamentary elections on Saturday, officials said.

Speaking with Radio Liberty, Afghan Interior Minister Wais Barmak said the governor, Toryalai Weesa; the powerful provincial police chief, General Abdul Raziq; and its intelligence chief were wounded in the shooting.

But a person with knowledge of the incident said in a telephone interview that “several sources” reported that the three were killed.

Abdul Raziq, the top anti-Taliban commander for the southern region in general, had survived a number of assassination attempts, including suicide attacks.

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

Miller, 57, took over last month as the top US commander in Afghanistan, replacing General John W. Nicholson junior A veteran of some of the US military’s most secretive combat units, he formerly served as commander of the US. Joint Special Operations Command and participated in numerous combat operations, including in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.

The shooting in Kandahar continued a surge in violence across Afghanistan ahead of parliamentary elections on Saturday. The Taliban has threatened to disrupt the voting and has warned Afghans against participating in what the radical Islamist group regards as a pretext for perpetuating US intervention in the country.

In a suicide attack late Wednesday near the largest US military base in Afghanistan, a bomber killed two Afghan civilians and wounded at least five Czech soldiers belonging to the US-led Nato coalition in the country, officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing near Bagram airbase about 30 miles north of the capital, Kabul.

Earlier Wednesday, a parliamentary candidate in southern Helmand province was killed when a bomb exploded while he was holding a meeting in the courtyard of his campaign headquarters in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.

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

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