3 top Afghan provincial officials killed, U.S. general unhurt

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

Inside the provincial governor's compound in Kandahar City, at least one attacker fatally shot the region's powerful police chief, Gen. Abdul Raziq and the provincial intelligence chief.

AFP adds: Five Czech soldiers have been injured in an apparent suicide attack on a military convoy in Afghanistan only two months after three others were killed, the Czech Defence Ministry said on Thursday.

Kandahar's provincial governor, Zalmay Wesa, later died of his injuries at the hospital.

"It's going to have a significant impact on the whole security balance in southern Afghanistan, but particularly Kandahar", said Mushtaq Rahim, an independent political analyst based in Kabul. Initial reports indicate this was an Afghan-on-Afghan incident.

Gen. Scott Miller, the top United States commander in Afghanistan who had been at the meeting with Razeq only moments earlier, was not injured in the attack.

The shooting broke out at the end of a meeting between Miller and officials who had been discussing how to maintain security during Afghanistan's parliamentary elections, scheduled for Saturday.

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Mr. Mattis, who had known General Abdul Razeq, the police commander in southern Kandahar, on Friday described his death as "the loss of a patriot". Gen Miller is uninjured.

Afghan security forces cordoned off the area as a U.S. military helicopter circled overhead.

He said Gen. Miller was the target and said Raziq, the governor and the intelligence chief were killed.

FILE - Afghan General Abdul Raziq (C), police chief of Kandahar, poses for a picture during a graduation ceremony at a police training center in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Feb. 19, 2017.

Residents of an entire province won't go to the polls because the country's security forces can't protect polling stations there.

Security forces swarmed the southern city of Kandahar after the shooting that shuttered shops and sent terrified civilians - already on high alert for attacks - into their homes.

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Widely seen as a bulwark against the Taliban insurgency, Raziq's death has left a unsafe security vacuum that one observer said could lead to a "meltdown" in the south, the Taliban movement's birthplace.

Taliban spokesman Zabihulla Mujahid said over social media that an "infiltrator" opened fire inside the governor's house during a meeting.

"This killing is the most significant military victory for the Taliban in recent memory", said Graeme Smith, a consultant with the International Crisis Group.

USA forces confirmed the attack, casting it as "Afghan on Afghan" violence. He ruled in Kandahar, the former Taliban heartland, with an iron fist and had survived several attempts to kill him, including one a year ago that resulted in the death of five diplomats from the United Arab Emirates.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, which takes the number of candidates killed so far during the campaign season to at least 10.

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