General Abdul Razeq, one of Afghanistan’s most powerful security officials, has been killed after a bodyguard opened fire following a meeting in the Governor’s compound in the southern province of Kandahar.
- General Razeq had a fearsome reputation as a ruthless opponent of the Taliban
- General Scott Miller, the top US commander, was also at the meeting but was uninjured
- The Taliban is claiming responsibility and says both generals were targeted
General Scott Miller, the top US commander in Afghanistan who had been at the meeting with General Razeq only moments earlier, was uninjured in the attack, but the local commander of the NDS intelligence service was killed and the provincial governor was severely wounded.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had targeted both Generals Miller and General Razeq, who had a fearsome reputation as a ruthless opponent of the insurgents.
The attack was a devastating blow to the Afghan Government ahead of parliamentary elections on Saturday, which the Taliban have vowed to disrupt.
“The brutal police chief of Kandahar has been killed along with several other officials,” a Taliban statement said.
General Razeq was criticised by human rights groups but highly respected by US officers who saw him as one of Afghanistan’s most effective leaders, largely responsible for keeping Kandahar province under control.
A flamboyant commander, he had survived several attempts on his life over many years and narrowly escaped an attack last year in which five diplomats from the United Arab Emirates were killed in Kandahar.
The attack underlined how precarious the situation remains in Afghanistan even after Taliban and US officials had opened preliminary contacts aimed at establishing the basis for future peace talks.
Officials said General Razeq and General Miller and the other officials were walking towards a landing zone as the helicopter taking the US General’s party back to Kabul approached to land when the gunman, who was waiting outside, opened fire on the group.
“Provincial officials including the Governor, the police chief and other officials were accompanying the foreign guests to the plane when the gunshots happened,” said Said Jan Khakrezwal, the head of the provincial council.
NATO spokesman Colonel Knut Peters said General Miller, who took command of US and forces and the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan last month, was uninjured but two Americans were wounded in the crossfire.