United States commander survives Afghan gun attack but police chief dies

The writer is a retired lieutenant general of the Pakistan Army and a former federal secretary. He has also served as chairman of the Pakistan Ordnance Factories Board

Kandahar Governor Zalmay Wesa was also severely wounded on Thursday and contradictory reports whether he survived could not be confirmed early on Friday. Everyone scattered, and the US participants scrambled toward their nearby helicopter.

Eyewitnesses said the shooting took place as Raziq was walking the USA delegation to its helicopters.

"He was the one guaranteeing security in Kandahar", said a foreign diplomat in Kabul.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spokesman Col Knut Peters said the wounded Americans had been caught in the crossfire and had been evacuated.

"We stand in solidarity with the fearless people of Afghanistan in fighting terrorism imposed on them", he said.

Butler disputed that, saying the assailant shot at Raziq and then appeared to spray the area with gunfire before he was killed. Another seven were wounded and three suspects have been arrested, he added. "It was over in seconds".

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General Miller said in a tweet: "Today I lost a great friend LTG Raziq".

Mr Raziq was a powerful figure in southern Kandahar and a close USA ally despite several allegations of corruption.

Raziq narrowly escaped an attack past year in which five diplomats from the United Arab Emirates were killed in Kandahar.

In a statement, the Taliban referred to Gen Raziq as a "brutal police chief".

Already, at least 10 candidates have been killed ahead of the election and while the Afghan government has promised to deploy 54,000 soldiers to protect the polls the Taliban has vowed to disrupt the election.

The Taliban issued a fresh warning Wednesday calling on "educational workers" to stop schools being turned into polling centres and prevent teachers and students from participating as election workers.

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Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops in Afghanistan, who was present at Thursday's meeting, was unhurt in the incident.

Pakistan's new prime minister, Imran Khan, and its military chief condemned the assault. Still, Mr. Mattis said he believed the attack would not affect Miller's security arrangements or the movement of the US military in Afghanistan. Mattis said it's unclear how the attack will affect voter turnout in Saturday's parliamentary elections.

Mattis was cautious about whether the attack could hit turnout but said the US aim of finding a negotiated, Afghan-led political solution to the conflict was unchanged.

At least, one Afghan civilian was also killed in the attack, according to reports.

Responding to questions about newly appointed United States special envoy for Afghan peace process Zalmay Khalilzad's meeting with Taliban in Qatar, the spokesman said: "We welcome efforts for a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict and will extend all possible support for any such efforts".

The attack was a massive blow ahead of the elections, an analyst said. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops, which handed over security to Afghan forces at the end of 2014, mostly train and assist with air power.

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A disarmingly youthful-looking figure, with a toothy smile belying a fearsome reputation, the 39-year-old Razeq was by far the most powerful commander in the strategically vital provinces of southern Afghanistan.

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