Kandahar poll postponed following senior provincial assassination

KANDAHAR: Afghanistan’s election commission has postponed elections in Kandahar for a week, following a brazen attack on a high-profile security meeting there with a US delegation that martyred at least two senior provincial officials, including the prominent police chief.

 

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the assault, saying they targeted the top US commander and Gen. Raziq, who was at the meeting but was unharmed.

The Independent Election Commission’s deputy spokesman Aziz Ibrahimi said the postponement was meant to allow mourners to observe funeral rites for the martyred officials.

Also martyred in Thursday’s attack was the Kandahar intelligence chief, Abdul Mohmin, but the condition of the province’s governor, ZalmayWesa, who was wounded, has been shrouded in mystery since the assault.Some reports say Wesa has been transferred to a Nato hospital outside Kandahar.

The Kandahar meeting, convened to discuss security plans for Saturday’s parliamentary elections, had just concluded when aguard turned his gun on the departing delegation.

Two Afghan policemen were also martyred and three were wounded in the attack, according to a Kandahar hospital official.

Three Americans, a US service member, a coalition contractor and an American civilian, were wounded and in stable condition, Nato said.

The funeral prayers for Gen.Raziq, who had been credited with single-handedly keeping the Taliban at bay in a province the insurgents once considered their spiritual heartland, were held on Friday at Kandahar’s most famous shrine, Khareq Mubarak, where he was also buried.

A Kandahar politician running for parliament, Khaled Pashtun, said the one-week postponement in the polling was meant to give voters who might have stayed at home on Saturday, afraid so soon after the attack, the chance to vote in the elections.

But US Army Colonel David Butler, who attended the meeting with Miller, said Gen. Raziq was clearly the target, not the US general.Col Butler said the assailant shot at Gen.Raziq and then appeared to spray the area with gunfire before he was killed. He said Gen Miller and the Afghan leaders had moved outside the palace after several hours of meetings and were standing in small groups in the compound.He said he heard several shots “and we all took cover. It was over in seconds”.

Col Butler added that Gen Miller made sure the scene was secure and the wounded were taken away by medical teams before he left the area and returned to Kabul.

Gen Raziqruled Kandahar with an iron fist and had survived several past assassination attempts, including one last year that killed five diplomats from the United Arab Emirates.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council condemned the attacks and others recently in Afghanistan and said violence or threats intended to disrupt the elections were unacceptable.

 The Kabul Times

 

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