One of Afghanistan’s most powerful police chiefs, General Abdul Raziq, was among those killed in an insider attack on the Kandahar governor’s office on Thursday. An official of the Afghan spy agency, the National Directorate of Security, was also killed in the attack, an official source confirmed to Asia Times. Kandahar Governor Zalmai Wesa is reported to have sustained injuries but survived.
“A governor’s bodyguard open fired on a meeting of the officials,” the source said on condition of anonymity. However, residents claim hearing a loud explosion ahead of the gunfire, the source of which is yet to be determined.
The meeting targeted was attended by United States General Scott Miller, who is also the chief of NATO’s Resolute Support (RS) Mission in Afghanistan.
“There was a situation at the Kandahar palace today. Initial reports indicate this was an Afghan-on-Afghan incident. General Miller is uninjured,” Col. Knut Peters, RS spokesperson, confirmed. Col. Peters later added that three Americans, one member of the armed services, one civilian and one contractor, were among those wounded.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack stating that General Raziq and General Miller were the primary targets.
“Mujahideen carried out attacks on a high profile meeting inside Kandahar governor house (this afternoon)…… the main targets of the attack were American commander Miller and infamous commander general Abdul Raziq the police chief of the said province,” their statement read.
The Taliban had previously made several unsuccessful attempts at assassinating Gen Raziq, who was seen as a strong impediment to the Taliban’s influence in the south. While Raziq was also accused of committing human rights violations, he remained a political and public favorite for his ability to keep the Taliban in check.
His loss has already inspired grief and fear in Kandahar. “Losing General Raziq has changed a lot in the Kandahar. The city is completely shut and situation is pretty bad,” Ahmad Naeem, a 22-year-old resident of Kandahar city told Asia Times. “Everyone is rushing home expecting things to get worse,” he added. “People all over are scared.”
The General’s death is expected to have an impact on the security situation owing to his control and micromanagement of affairs in the southern part of Afghanistan. This is especially worrisome since parliamentary elections are scheduled for October 20.
The Taliban has already announced their boycott of the elections and called for their fighters to increase attacks on security forces as well as upon polling centers and candidates. At least 10 candidates have already been killed in attacks in the last few months, while several
others have escaped assassination attempts, making this one of the deadliest elections in recent memory.
According to the latest UN report, election related violence has caused 366 civilian casualties, 126 deaths and 240 injuries, since the announcement of polls earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the attack, because it targeted an American general, could have an impact on the ongoing peace talks between the US and the Taliban. Just days before, the Taliban admitted to meeting the new US special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, in Doha. They also expressed interest in continuing peace negations with the US administration. However, the latest attack could harm future negotiations.
The attack has shocked an already war weary nation. “Gen Raziq was
a great human being and a patriot soldier of Afghanistan,” Tawab Ghorzang, former spokesman to Afghan National Security Council told Asia Times. “We have lost a man of bravery and dignity. He will never be replaced and it’s impossible to fill the gap that is tragically created,” he said.
This sentiment was echoed in the streets of Kandahar this evening. “Gen Raziq has done a lot for Kandahar,” said Kandahar resident Naeem. “Since he became the police chief, things changed in Kandahar and its districts. It won’t be the same without him,” he added.