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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

US general shot in last week's Taliban attack

Brig Gen Jeffrey Smiley is recovering after suffering at least one gunshot wound

US Army Brig Gen Jeffrey Smiley pictured here in Camp Hero Afghanistan on July 5 2018, was wounded in a Taliban attack in Kandahar on October 18 2018. Army photo by Staff Sgt Neysa Canfiel
US Army Brig Gen Jeffrey Smiley pictured here in Camp Hero Afghanistan on July 5 2018, was wounded in a Taliban attack in Kandahar on October 18 2018. Army photo by Staff Sgt Neysa Canfiel

A US general was shot in a Taliban-claimed attack on a high-level security meeting last week that killed a powerful Afghan police chief, Nato's mission in Afghanistan said on Monday.

Brig Gen Jeffrey Smiley was among 13 wounded when a gunman wearing an Afghan security forces uniform fired on the gathering that included General Scott Miller — the top US and Nato commander in Afghanistan — in the southern city of Kandahar.

Gen 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".

Gen 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.

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The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying Miller and Raziq were the targets. But American officials denied the US general was a target.

Gen Smiley suffered non-life threatening injuries and was "in Germany receiving further treatment", Resolute Support said.

He 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 an insider assault in such a secure location has rattled Afghanistan, a country long used to high-profile targeted killings.

It was also an unusual incident for the US military, whose generals seldom face attack and are rarely hurt.

Parliamentary elections held across Afghanistan at 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 US to end the 17-year war.

Taliban representatives have met 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.