Thu, 25 Apr 2019

The Pentagon has acknowledged for the first time that U.S. Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Smiley was wounded in the attack in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar Province on October 18 that killed two senior Afghan officials.

'I can confirm that he is recovering from a gunshot wound he received during the attack in Kandahar,' Navy Commander Grant Neeley, a spokesman for the NATO Resolute Support mission, told U.S. media on October 21.

'He is being treated at a Resolute Support hospital in Kandahar,' Neeley added.

The police chief and intelligence head of Kandahar Province were killed in the shooting attack at the provincial governor's compound in what was seen as a major blow to the Western-backed government in Kabul.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault, which came just two days before scheduled parliamentary elections. The elections were delayed in Kandahar Province as a result of the attack.

Afghan officials told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that a bodyguard opened fire after a high-level security meeting in the governor's compound.

The gunman was shot and killed almost immediately by security forces.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, was present at the gathering but was unhurt, spokesman Neeley said at the time.

However, Kandahar Province's police chief, General Abdul Raziq -- one of Afghanistan's most powerful commanders, with a fearsome reputation as an enemy of the Taliban -- and provincial intelligence head Abdul Momin Hassankhail were shot and killed.

Neeley provided no other details on the wounding of Smiley. The Washington Post first broke the story and reported that the U.S. general was recovering after suffering at least one gunshot wound.

Smiley, who has served in the Army for 30 years, became a general in May 2017. He was assigned in the summer to lead the Kandahar-based unit known as Train, Advise, Assist, and Command-South.

The Kabul government has struggled to fend off a resurgent Taliban, as well as Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda militants, nearly two decades after a U.S.-led coalition drove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan in 2001.

U.S. officials have attempted to bring the Kabul government and Taliban leaders together for negotiations, but little progress has been made.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, The Washington Post, AP, and CNN

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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