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Kandahar Police Chief Killed In Attack Claimed By Taliban

The police chief, Abdul Raziq, was reportedly killed at the governor's office.

The police chief and intelligence head of the southern Afghan province of Kandahar have been killed in a shooting attack, officials say, in a major blow to the West-backed government in Kabul.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the October 18 assault that came just two days before parliamentary elections.

Afghan officials told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that bodyguards opened fire after a meeting in the governor's compound between senior Afghan and U.S. security officials.

The powerful police chief of Kandahar, General Abdul Raziq, and the provincial intelligence head were shot and killed, they said.

There were conflicting reports about the fate of Governor Zalmai Wesa, with one lawmaker saying all three men had been killed.

NATO Resolute Support spokesman Grant Neely told RFE/RL that the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, was present at the meeting but was unhurt.

Neely said two Americans were wounded in the crossfire and evacuated from the scene.

The Taliban claimed responsibility in a statement, saying, "The brutal police chief of Kandahar has been killed along several other officials."

Fearsome Reputation

Raziq was one of Afghanistan's most powerful commanders with a fearsome reputation as an enemy of the Taliban.

A close ally of the U.S. military, Raziq, has been credited with pacifying large swaths of Kandahar but has been accused by human rights groups of gross human rights violations, including forcible disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings.

Afghan Women Seek Change Via Ballot Box
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WATCH: Afghan Women Seek Change Via Ballot Box

Afghanistan is on high alert ahead of the long-delayed parliamentary elections on October 20, after the Taliban pledged to block the vote.

More than 2,500 candidates are competing for 249 seats in the lower house of parliament.

The run-up to the elections has been marred by deadly militant attacks and targeted killings of candidates, 10 of whom have been killed so far.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP