x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Afghan police chief among dead in battle

Afghan guards working for the US coalition in Kandahar city reportedly kill the province's police chief and nine officers.

President Hamid Karzai says Afghan guards working for the US coalition at a base in Kandahar city killed the province's police chief. Karzai is demanding that the coalition hand over the guards to Afghan authorities. Officials say the police chief, Matiullah Qati, was among 10 officers killed in a gunbattle outside the attorney general's office in Kandahar. A US military spokeswoman, Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker, said that Afghan forces were trying to free prisoners in the government complex when the shooting happened. She said she couldn't immediately say whether US forces were present during the shooting, but said that Afghan forces killed the Afghan officials.

Mr Karzai's demands could be the first major test for newly arrived Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who commands all US and NATO forces in the country. Ahmad Wali Karzai, the brother of President Hamid Karzai and a top official in Kandahar, said provincial police chief Matiullah Qati was among 10 policemen killed. The provincial head of the criminal investigations department, Abdul Khaliq Hamdard, also died, he said.

The area was sealed by US forces after the shooting, an Associated Press reporter at the scene said. Kandahar is the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban, an Islamic militia that ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s and was ousted during the US-led invasion in 2001. The Taliban has made a comeback in the last three years, wreaking havoc in much of the country's south and east, including Kandahar, and forcing President Barack Obama's administration to pour thousands of troops into a war US officials once said had been won.

* AP