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
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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 ...."


Afghanistan starts anti-polio drive in high-risk areas

Updated 23 January 2019
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Afghanistan starts anti-polio drive in high-risk areas

  • Assurances given that vaccinators will not be targeted by militants
  • The war-torn country had 21 cases of polio last year, among the highest worldwide

KABUL: The Afghan government has launched a polio vaccination program covering 5.4 million children in high-risk areas, officials said on Tuesday.

The one-month campaign to inoculate children under 5 years old started on Monday after assurances from tribal chiefs and clerics that vaccinators will not be targeted by militants, and that families will allow their kids to get the lifetime immunization, the officials said.

The war-torn country had 21 cases of polio last year, among the highest worldwide. Among the reasons were health workers’ lack of access due to violence, and families preventing their children from being vaccinated because of the perception that it is hazardous to their health, said Waheed Mayar, chief spokesman for the Public Health Ministry.

Some vaccinators were killed by suspected militants in past years while touring villages. “This year, we’ve received assurances from villagers, tribal chiefs and clerics that they’ll make sure vaccinators are allowed (to do their work) as vaccination is essential for their children,” Mayar told Arab News.

High-risk areas include parts of western, southeast and central Afghanistan, the Public Health Ministry said.

“We will have five vaccination campaigns for the first half of 2019. We are using this time to build immunity among our people,” Public Health Minister Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz said in a statement.

“We need to work together to end polio for the world… We need to help each other, open our doors, get our children vaccinated,” he added.

“Our children are innocents and rely on us to protect them from preventable paralysis. We cannot let them down.”

Parents should plan to have their children at home and available to be vaccinated during the campaign, the ministry said.

“The polio vaccine is safe, even for sick and newborn children. It is very important these children get the vaccine because they have lower immunity, which makes them more susceptible to the virus,” the ministry added. “Polio vaccination has also been strongly endorsed by national and global Islamic scholars.”