KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN-One of the most devastating Taliban assassination strikes of the long Afghan war killed top leaders of Kandahar province Thursday, in an attack that missed the top US commander in the country, Gen. Austin S. Miller, just two days before national elections that had already been undermined by violence.
Afghan officials on Thursday said three top Kandahar province officials, including the governor, were killed by their own guards at a meeting, AP reported.
Dastageri said provincial intelligence chief Abdul Mohmin also died inside the governor's sprawling residence where the attack occurred.
A gunman wearing an Afghan army uniform opened fire Thursday on participants in a meeting with the top USA commander in Afghanistan, killing three top southern provincial officials and wounding at least three Americans, officials said.
"Raziq is basically the glue that has kept security forces in southern Afghanistan together", Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and editor of the Long War Journal, told Military Times.
Earlier, Foreign Office too issued a statement to condemn the incident and said that Pakistan stands with the Afghan government and people and reiterates its support for the democratic process in Afghanistan. He had no further information.
Raziq was considered a legendary symbol of resistance against the Taliban insurgency in the southern parts of Afghanistan, particularly in Kandahar province - once the Taliban's heartland.
General Abdul Raziq once boasted he had survived "countless" Taliban attempts to kill him. The UN committee against torture in 2017 said that he should be prosecuted over allegations of torture and enforced disappearances.
The interior ministry said they have put in place measures to ensure voting happens without incidents.
Mr Raziq was a powerful figure in southern Kandahar and a close United States ally despite several allegations of corruption. He ruled the former Taliban heartland with an iron fist and had survived several past assassination attempts, including one previous year that killed five diplomats from the United Arab Emirates.
Elections are due to be held across most of the rest of Afghanistan on Saturday.
Even if the Taliban did not plan the attack, it is likely to hugely benefit them.
Butler said the gunman had been killed and that Afghan officials were the "target of the violence".
The attack was a massive blow ahead of the elections, an analyst said.
The Taliban has been perpetrating several attacks in the run up to the parliamentary elections.
The five soldiers were injured when an Afghan civilian auto loaded with explosives was blown up as the convoy led by an American vehicle was passing by. The soldier underwent surgery and the Czech military said he was not in life-threatening condition.
At least 10 candidates have been killed in attacks around the country in the run-up to the vote.