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 ...."