Monday 14 October 2019

Nato commander unhurt as guards mow down Afghan security chiefs

The Taliban claimed General Scott Miller was the target of the attack, one of several over the past 24 hours in the country as it prepares to vote.

US Army Gen. Scott Miller, commander of U.S. and Nato troops escaped the attack (Sharida Jackson/AP)
US Army Gen. Scott Miller, commander of U.S. and Nato troops escaped the attack (Sharida Jackson/AP)

By Amir Shah and Kathy Gannon

The three top officials in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province were killed when their own guards opened fire on them at a security conference, the deputy provincial governor said.

A Taliban spokesman said the target was Washington’s top general in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, who escaped without injury, according to Nato.

Agha Lala Dastageri, Kandahar’s deputy provincial governor, said powerful provincial police chief Abdul Raziq was among the dead, along with Kandahar governor Zalmay Wesa, who died of his wounds at a nearby hospital.

Security forces guard near Abdul Jabar Qahraman’s house, a parliamentary election candidate, after he was killed (STR/AP)

The deputy provincial governor said provincial intelligence chief Abdul Mohmin also died inside the governor’s sprawling residence where the attack occurred.

Three Americans, a service member and two civilian workers, were wounded in the shooting, said US Colonel Knut Peters, a spokesman for Nato troops in Afghanistan.

Their conditions were not immediately known.

“Gen Miller is unhurt,” said Col Peters.

Gen Miller is the commander of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan.

It was members of Wesa’s elite guard unit who turned their guns on their colleagues during a high-level security meeting ahead of Saturday’s parliamentary elections.

Khalid Pashtun, a member of parliament from the province, said Afghan Security Forces cordoned off the area and a US military helicopter circled overhead as a gun battle that began at 3pm local time raged on for more than one hour.

Ballot boxes to be used in the election (Rahmat Gul/AP)

Col Peters said initial reports indicate one of the original attackers is dead.

In a telephone interview, the spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan’s southern region, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, said the Taliban carried out the attack.

He said Gen Miller was the target and said Mr Raziq, the governor and the intelligence chief were killed.

Mr Pashtun said an Afghan military corps commander was also among the dead, although he did not name him.

An Interior Ministry official said Mr Raziq rarely visited the governor’s residence and was meticulous about his own security.

Mr Razik was a particularly powerful figure in southern Kandahar and a close US ally despite widespread allegations of corruption.

Afghan National army soldiers search a car covered with campaign posters for Pacha Ahmadzai, a candidate in parliamentary elections (Rahmat Gul/AP)

He ruled in Kandahar, the former Taliban heartland, with an iron fist and had survived several attempts to kill him, including one last year that resulted in the death of five diplomats from the United Arab Emirates.

Security has been steadily deteriorating in Afghanistan with increasingly brazen attacks being carried out by insurgents and Afghanistan’s security forces have been on high alert ahead of Saturday’s elections.

The Taliban have threatened the polls and warned teachers and students not to participate in the vote and not to allow schools to be used as polling centres.

The insurgents said in a statement they will target Saturday’s elections, which they view as illegitimate, but that they do not want to harm civilians.

Meanwhile, a Nato convoy was attacked late Wednesday near the Afghan capital, killing two civilians and injuring five Czech troops, Afghan officials and the Czech military said Thursday.

The attack, which took place in the district of Bagram in Parwan province, also wounded three Afghan civilians, said Wahida Shakar, spokeswoman for the provincial governor.

Bagram is about 24 miles from Kabul and is also the home of a sprawling US military base

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Afghan police stand guard at a checkpoint (Rahmat Gul/AP)

Of the five Czech soldiers, one was seriously injured when their vehicle overturned following the explosion.

The soldier underwent surgery and the Czech military said he was not in life-threatening condition.

The attack on the Nato convoy came at the end of a particularly violent day across Afghanistan as tensions are rising ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections on Saturday.

A Taliban bombing in southern Helmand province killed a candidate running in the elections.

The Taliban also attacked checkpoints in the northern Baghlan province, killing six policemen and wounding two others in a four-hour battle.

Also, in eastern Maidan Wardak province, a suicide car bomber targeted a military vehicle, killing two Afghan army troops.

In recent months, Afghan troops have come under near-daily attacks.

Nato troops, which handed over security to Afghan forces at the end of 2014, mostly train and assist with air power.

So far this year, eight US soldiers and three other Nato service members have died in Afghanistan.

PA Media

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