Afghanistan postpones election in Kandahar after attack

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<pAccording to an AP television cameraman who was at the meeting, the delegates had just gathered for a group photo when gunfire broke out inside the provincial governor's compound in Kandahar city. Everyone scattered, and the U.S. participants scrambled toward their helicopter. But a firefight broke out between the U.S. service members and Afghan police when they tried to stop the U.S. delegation from reaching their helicopter, said the cameraman.

<pTaliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said the militant group carried out the attack and that Miller was the target.

<pBut U.S. Army Col. David Butler, who attended the meeting with Miller, said Raziq was clearly the target, not the U.S. general. Butler said the assailant shot at Raziq and then appeared to spray the area with gunfire before he was killed.

<pHe said Miller and the Afghan leaders had moved outside the palace after several hours of meetings and were standing in small groups in the compound. He said he heard several shots "and we all took cover. It was over in seconds."

<pButler added that Miller made sure the scene was secure and the wounded were taken away by medivac before he left the area and returned to Kabul.

<pRazik was a close U.S. ally despite widespread allegations of corruption. He ruled Kandahar with an iron fist and had survived several past assassination attempts, including one last year that killed five diplomats from the United Arab Emirates.

<pThe Taliban have vowed to disrupt Saturday's parliamentary elections, warning teachers and students not to allow schools to be used for polling and warning Afghans to stay away from the polls.

<pAfghan President Ashraf Ghani's adviser, Ziaulhaq Amarkhil, said the attack was meant to disrupt elections and urged voters to defy Taliban threats, saying casting their ballot "would be a big slap on the face of the enemy."

<pU.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the killing of the Kandahar police chief is unlikely to fundamentally weaken the security situation. Speaking while in Singapore for a conference on Thursday, Mattis called Raziq's death a tragic loss but said he believes the Afghan security forces have matured to the point where they can continue fighting the Taliban without him.

<pThe U.N. Security Council condemned the attacks and others recently in Afghanistan and said violence or threats intended to disrupt the elections were unacceptable.

<pPakistan closed its two official border crossings with Afghanistan, the foreign ministry said. The development came at the request of the Afghan government, which routinely accuses Pakistan of harboring Taliban militants, a charge Islamabad denies. The crossings would remain closed Friday and Saturday.

<pSecurity has been steadily deteriorating in Afghanistan with increasingly audacious attacks by insurgents and Afghanistan's security forces have been on high alert ahead of Saturday's elections.