Afghanistan’s Elections Shrink in Face of Violence

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Initial reports indicate that at least one gunman, allegedly a member of the provincial governor's bodyguards, shot and killed the region's top police official, Gen. Abdul Raziq, and the provincial intelligence chief, Abdul Momin.

But the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin S. Miller, who was present, escaped the attack, which took place after a meeting about election security.

"The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed powerful provincial police chief Abdul Raziq", Jennifer Glasse reports from Kabul for NPR's Newscast.

The recent attack is a blow to the Afghan government as it gears up for parliamentary elections on Saturday, which the Taliban have vowed to disrupt.

Raziq was killed in the attack, while two U.S. citizens and several top Afghan official, including the governor, were wounded, Pajhwok Afghan News reported. He narrowly escaped an attack previous year in which five Emiratis were killed and the UAE's ambassador to Afghanistan Juma Al Kaabi was injured.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in Bagram, which is the home of a sprawling US military base.

"At 3.30pm, after a meeting about the security of elections, when the high-ranking participants were heading to helicopters, an enemy infiltrator opened fire on them", the deputy interior minister, General Akhtar Mohammad Ibrahimi, said at a news conference. "I express my deepest sympathy and grief with all people of Afghanistan, especially with residents of the town".

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The election for parliament's lower house is seen as a dry run for the presidential vote scheduled for April and organisers have said it would not be delayed any further. "Afghanistan lost a patriot, my condolences to the people of Afghanistan", said Miller, the top US Forces and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commander in Afghanistan.

Raziq took over as Kandahar's police chief after his predecessor, Khan Mahammad Mojayed, was killed in a suicide attack in 2011.

Three US citizens including a soldier, civilian and contractor suffered injuries in the attack; however, General Scott Miller remained unhurt. Two Americans and the governor were among 13 people injured.

An anti-Taliban commander was killed in a shooting in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Thursday in an attack involving the United States' top general in Afghanistan, sources said.

Pashtun said an Afghan military corps commander was also among the dead, although he didn't name him.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said it was too soon to say if the death of Gen. Abdul Razeq, the police commander in southern Kandahar, would hurt voter turnout, but added that the U.S. military's mission was unaltered. "Pakistan wishes to see peace and stability returning to Afghanistan which is an important neighbour and a brotherly country".

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