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Three top Afghan officials killed in Taliban attack that narrowly misses US commander

Three senior Afghan officials have been killed and two American officials injured, in a Taliban attack in Kandahar on Thursday that narrowly missed the top US commander in Afghanistan.

Police Chief, General Abdul Raziq; the provincial governor of Kandahar, Zalmai Wesa; and, intelligence chief General Abdul Mominera were killed in the attack. Two American officials were injured but US General Austin Miller, commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, managed to survive without injuries.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes two days before parliamentary elections, but assert that their primary targets were Raziq and Miller. US officials however dispute whether Miller was a target. Colonel Butler asserts that “this was an Afghan-on-Afghan incident”.

Raziq, was considered a valuable security chief  by the US who saw him as someone who would clamp down on insurgents and had influence across southern Afghanistan - the Taliban heartland. Human rights organisations however have been critical of his tactics that have often resulted in a large number of civilian deaths.

Agha Lalay Datagiri, the deputy governor of Kandahar, suspects that one or more of the gunmen may have been a turncoat in the Afghan security forces.

As parliamentary elections approach, a third of the polling stations will not open due to security concerns and at least ten candidates alongside dozens of supporters have been killed.

Last year there was a serious attack inside Kandahar governor’s office targeting a high number of officials including a deputy governor, ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, and members of parliament. The Star notes that “The governor at the time survived with burns and wounds” and Raziq escaped having “just stepped out of the room”.

See more from The Star here and the New York Times here.