US general wounded in last week’s Afghan insider attack
KABUL - AFP
Brigadier General Jeffrey Smiley was among 13 wounded when a gunman wearing an Afghan security forces uniform opened fire on the gathering that included General Scott Miller -- the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan -- in the southern city of Kandahar.
Miller was unhurt in the shooting inside the heavily fortified Kandahar provincial governor’s compound that NATO’s Resolute Support described as an "Afghan-on-Afghan incident".
General Abdul Raziq, an anti-Taliban strongman credited with keeping a lid on the insurgency in the south, was killed along with the provincial intelligence chief and an Afghan journalist.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the brazen attack, saying Miller and Raziq were the targets. But American officials denied the US general was a target.
Smiley suffered non-life threatening gunshot wounds and was "in Germany receiving further treatment", Resolute Support confirmed.
Smiley arrived in Afghanistan in August to head a Resolute Support mission called "Train, Advise, Assist and Command - South" based in Kandahar.
That the Taliban could mount a deadly insider assault in such a secure location has rattled Afghanistan, a country long used to high-profile targeted killings and violence.
It was also an unusual incident for the US military, whose generals seldom face attack and are rarely wounded.
Parliamentary elections held across Afghanistan over the weekend were postponed in Kandahar for at least a week.
The shooting was seen as a major coup for the insurgents and threatens to torpedo peace talks and destabilise the south, which is the Taliban’s birthplace.
The Taliban, which controls or contests swathes of the war-torn country, has made significant territorial gains and threatened provincial capitals in recent months.
The increased aggression had been seen as an attempt by the group to strengthen its negotiating position in talks with the United States to end the 17-year war.
Taliban representatives have met with US officials at least twice in Qatar in recent months, most recently on October 12 with newly appointed US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, raising hopes for peace.
But analysts said Thursday’s attack may have jeopardised those tentative efforts.