The Pentagon has confirmed that a U.S. general was shot and wounded in a Taliban attack that killed two Afghan leaders in Kandahar province this week. Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Smiley was shot, Department of Defense spokesman Commander Grant W Neeley said on Sunday, providing no other details.
The Washington Post reported earlier that Gen Smiley was recovering after suffering at least one gunshot wound while inside the Kandahar governor’s compound. Smiley is assigned to lead a Kandahar-based command with a mission to train and advise Afghan security forces and help with counter-terrorism operations in southern Afghanistan.
The attack claimed by Taliban saw Kandahar’s Police Commander Abdul Raziq’s body guard turn on those he was supposed to protect. The body guard attacked Raziq and intelligence chief General Abdul Momin, both of whom died in the attack. Kandahar’s Governor Zalmai Weser and regional army commander Nabi Elham were wounded.
These men had just finished attending a high-level security conference that was also attended by U.S.’s top commander in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller. The attack was so close that Gen Miller too had to pull out his fire-arm, a rare occurrence but which highlights the precarious situation currently prevailing in Afghanistan. Miller later told an Afghan TV channel: “It was a very close confined space. But I don’t assess that I was the target.”
Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, Afghanistan has never been as insecure as it is now. The Taliban control more territory than at any point since the removal of their regime 17 years ago. The attacks carried out by Taliban fighters are becoming bigger, more frequent, more widespread and much deadlier.
The brazen attack in Kandahar forced the postponement of voting in parliamentary elections, scheduled for Saturday, by a week in Kandahar province. About 5 million people voted across Afghanistan over the weekend.
At least 44 people were killed in violence at voting stations, including a suicide bombing attack at a polling station in Kabul, after both the Taliban and Islamic State group vowed to disrupt the first parliamentary vote in the country in eight years.