Top anti-Taliban official killed in Kandahar shooting

The top US commander in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller escaped unhurt after a burst of gunfire in the governor's compound in Kandahar province on Thursday but the powerful police chief General Abdul Razeq was killed. (AFP)
Updated 18 October 2018

Top anti-Taliban official killed in Kandahar shooting

  • Sources confirm death of police chief Raziq in targeted attack
  • Militant group claims responsibility for incident

KABUL: An anti-Taliban commander was killed in a shooting in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Thursday in an attack involving the United States’ top general in Afghanistan, sources said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the incident which claimed the life of police chief Gen. Abdul Raziq as he, US General Austin Scott Miller, the governor of Kandahar and a few other top officials were exiting the governor’s compound after a meeting, sources said.

Several local witnesses and two lawmakers from Kandahar confirmed Raziq’s death, while reports quoted Interior Minister Wais Barmak as saying that Kandahar’s governor and spy chief were also injured in the attack. 

While General Miller escaped unhurt, two US soldiers were injured and a local journalist was killed in the shooting. Raziq was the top anti-Taliban commander for Afghanistan’s southern region and was known to have survived several assassination attempts. He was on the militant group’s watchlist for using torture techniques against Taliban inmates, but enjoyed reasonable security in Kandahar.

Ahmad Shuja, an analyst, termed Raziq’s death as a big loss for the region. “And that's another big effect of Raziq's assassination: The Americans lost a steadfast ally with whom they had worked so well for so many years and on whom they had come to depend so much,” he said.

The attack comes a day after a parliamentarian candidate and another key anti-Taliban figure from the Helmand province was killed in his campaign office. It follows the deaths of a United Arab Emirates’ ambassador, along with five other UAE diplomats and a few local officials in January last year. They were killed by explosives hidden in a government building, in Kandahar.

Reacting to news of Raziq’s death, Omar Zakhailwal, Afghan ambassador to Pakistan, tweeted: “A dark day! Shocked & heartbroken by the demise of close friend, great patriot & national hero Gen Abdul Raziq who single-handedly restored stability to a volatile Kandahar and the greater south ...."


Beijing says holding UK’s Hong Kong consulate employee

Updated 54 min 35 sec ago

Beijing says holding UK’s Hong Kong consulate employee

  • Simon Cheng went missing on Aug. 8 after sending his girlfriend a text message
  • Cheng is accused of violating the Public Security Administration Punishments Law

BEIJING: An employee of Britain’s consulate in Hong Kong who went missing earlier this month is being held in China, Beijing confirmed Wednesday.
The incident comes as relations between Britain and China have become strained over what Beijing calls London’s “interference” in pro-democracy protests that have wracked Hong Kong for three months.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing the detained man had been “placed in administrative detention for 15 days as punishment” by Shenzhen police for breaking a public security law.
Geng said the employee was from Hong Kong and therefore the issue was an internal matter.
“Let me clarify, this employee is a Hong Kong citizen, he’s not a UK citizen, which is also saying he’s a Chinese person,” Geng said.
The man, named by his family as Simon Cheng, traveled to Shenzhen, a megacity on the China-Hong Kong border, for a one-day business meeting on August 8.
That night, Cheng returned via high-speed train and sent messages to his girlfriend as he was about to go through customs.
“We lost contact with him since then,” the family said in a Facebook post.
Geng said the employee had violated the Public Security Administration Punishments Law — a law with broad scope aimed at “maintaining public order in society” and “safeguarding public security,” as well as making sure police and security forces act within the law.
The ongoing protests have raised fears of a Chinese crackdown in some form.
The unrest was initially triggered by a controversial law that would allow extradition to the mainland, but has since broadened into a call for wider democratic reforms.
Beijing has repeatedly warned Britain — the former colonial ruler of Hong Kong — against any “interference” in the protests, which erupted 11 weeks ago and have seen millions of people hit the streets calling for democratic reforms.
“Recently the UK has made many erroneous remarks about Hong Kong,” Geng said at the press briefing Wednesday.
“We once again urge the British side to stop gesticulating and fanning flames on the Hong Kong issue.”
With Beijing attempting to shape the narrative of the unrest in Hong Kong, Chinese authorities have increased their inspections at the Shenzhen border, including checking the phones and devices of some passengers for photos of the protests.
The mainland metropolis of Shenzhen sits behind China’s “Great Firewall” --which restricts access to news and information — while Hong Kong enjoys liberties unseen on the mainland.
China promised to respect the freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory after its handover from Britain in 1997, including freedom of speech, unfettered access to the Internet and an independent judiciary.
Beijing also faced criticism in the past for detaining foreign nationals amid ongoing diplomatic spats.
Ottawa has urged Beijing to release two Canadian citizens detained in December amid escalating diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained amid a diplomatic crisis sparked by the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer for Chinese tech giant Huawei, in Vancouver on a US extradition bid.
Former diplomat Kovrig and consultant Spavor were picked up in China on suspicion of espionage days after her arrest, in a move widely seen as retaliation.
Friends of the missing employee staged a protest outside the British Consulate in Hong Kong on Wednesday afternoon to pressure the UK government to “save Simon.”
“Hong Kong people are still fighting to oppose the extradition bill, yet something like this happened without such a bill,” organizer Max Chung told AFP.
“If the Beijing government doesn’t explain to the public why this happened, then it is playing with fire. This is a warning to Hongkongers and to whoever wants to come to Hong Kong.”
Chung told the rally that “to our best understanding” his detained friend had not been involved with the ongoing protests that have engulfed the financial hub.
“Simon is a very good guy, and smart guy... I don’t think he would do anything stupid,” he added.