An Afghan security chief and a journalist were killed and three Americans wounded Thursday when a gunman opened fire on a high-level security meeting attended by top US commander General Scott Miller, officials said.
The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack in the southern city of Kandahar that comes two days before Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections that the militant group has vowed to disrupt.
Security forces swarmed the city after the attack at the provincial governor’s office where the senior Afghan and foreign officials had gathered, witnesses told AFP.
The Taliban said General Abdul Raziq, the powerful police chief of Kandahar province with a fierce reputation for brutality, was the target of the shooting.
Raziq was killed and six of his bodyguards wounded, a provincial security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“The shooting happened as they were leaving the meeting,” the official said, adding two members of Afghanistan’s spy agency also were injured.
Miller was not hurt in the shooting, NATO’s Resolute Support mission spokesman Colonel Knut Peters said in a statement.
Three Americans, including a soldier, civilian and contractor, were wounded in the cross-fire and had been evacuated from the scene.
“Initial reports indicate this was an Afghan-on-Afghan incident,” Peters said.
“We are being told the area is secure.”
A hospital official told AFP that several senior officials had been brought to the medical facility, but they would not provide further details.
Another witness said the city was “full of military forces”.
“They don’t allow anyone to come out of their houses,” he told AFP.
Afghanistan is on high alert ahead of the long-delayed legislative elections, scheduled for October 20, 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 10 candidates have been killed so far, including Abdul Jabar Qahraman who was blown up 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”.
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