KANDAHAR, Afghanistan: Governor Zalmai Wesa and powerful police commander of the southern Afghan province of Kandahar Abdul Razeq were killed in a shooting inside the governor’s compound on Thursday the Associated Press reported.
The attack came after a meeting with other security officials, including the top US commander in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller.
Local media outlets reported that a bodyguard for Governor Wesa opened fire on the officials while they were making their way to a helipad after the meeting.
The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack that comes two days before Afghanistan´s parliamentary elections that the militant group has vowed to disrupt.
Security forces swarmed the city after the attack at the provincial governor’s office where the senior Afghan and foreign officials had gathered, witnesses told AFP.
The Taliban said General Abdul Raziq, the powerful police chief of the province with a fierce reputation for brutality, was the target of the shooting.
Raziq was killed and six of his bodyguards wounded, a provincial security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“The shooting happened as they were leaving the meeting,” the official said, adding two members of Afghanistan’s spy agency also were injured.
Miller was not hurt in the shooting, NATO’s Resolute Support mission spokesman Colonel Knut Peters said in a statement.
Three Americans, including a soldier, civilian and contractor, were wounded in the cross-fire and had been evacuated from the scene.
“Initial reports indicate this was an Afghan-on-Afghan incident,” Peters said. “We are being told the area is secure.”
A hospital official told AFP that several senior officials had been brought to the medical facility, but they would not provide further details.
Another witness said the city was “full of military forces”.
“They don´t allow anyone to come out of their houses,” he told AFP.
Afghanistan is on high alert ahead of the long-delayed legislative elections, scheduled for October 20, after the Taliban pledged to attack the ballot.
More than 2,500 candidates are competing for 249 seats in the lower house, including doctors, mullahs, and the sons of former warlords.