In Kabul, Afghanistan, a high level security meeting concerning election protection was shattered after an elite guard opened fire on the delegation, killing the powerful Kandahar police chief, Abdul Raziq. The Taliban has said that the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, was the target, but reports conflict that claim.
The AP reported that a cameraman was there and said, “Everyone scattered, and the U.S. participants scrambled toward their helicopter. But a firefight broke out between the U.S. service members and Afghan police when they tried to stop the U.S. delegation from reaching their helicopter.”
At least one other senior Afghan official was killed in the strike, which occurred two days before the elections.
Army Col. David Butler, who was at the meeting with General Miller, said Abdul Raziq was clearly the target. General Miller has also said that he believes he was not the intended victim, but added it was a close space.
“It was pretty clear he was shooting at Raziq,” Butler said, adding that Miller was nearby.
In addition to Raziq, Kandahar’s intelligence chief, reports from governor Agha Lala Dastageri claim Abdul Mohmin was killed. He also said Kandahar governor Zalmay Wesa died while being treated for injuries, but security officials report that he survived.
“Three Americans — a U.S. service member, a coalition contractor and an American civilian — were injured and in stable condition, said NATO spokesman U.S. Col. Knut Peters.”
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the murders and said that Miller was the intended principle target.
Col. Butler said “Miller and the Afghan leaders had moved outside the palace after several hours of meetings and were standing in small groups in the compound. He said he heard several shots ‘and we all took cover. It was over in seconds.’”
“We stabilized and treated the wounded and secured the area,” he added, reporting that Miller made sure the scene was secure and the injured were taken care of before leaving the site.
“The Taliban have vowed to disrupt Saturday’s parliamentary elections, warning teachers and students not to allow schools to be used for polling and warning Afghans to stay away from the polls.”
“Within hours of the attack, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addressed the nation to assure Kandahar residents it was safe to go to the polls. In an AP interview, his adviser, Ziaulhaq Amarkhil, said the attack was meant to disrupt elections and urged voters to defy Taliban threats, saying casting their ballot ‘would be a big slap on the face of the enemy.’”