An American brigadier general suffered a gunshot wound during an insider attack last week in the Afghan Taliban birthplace of Kandahar, the United States-NATO mission confirmed Monday.
Citing anonymous individuals with alleged knowledge of the October 18 assault, the Washington Post (WaPo) reported on Sunday that Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Smiley is one of the three Americans injured in the attack, adding the he “is recovering after suffering at least one gunshot wound in the Kandahar governor’s compound.”
Last Thursday, a bodyguard of the governor of Kandahar opened fire on behalf of the Taliban on a high-level security meeting at a heavily fortified government compound, killing three people and wounding a total of 13 others.
The Taliban killed Gen. Abdul Raziq, the powerful police chief of Kandahar known as the “torturer-in-chief” for his heavy-handed tactics against the terrorist group, and Kandahar’s intelligence chief, Abdul Momin.
After initially refusing to identify the wounded, the U.S.-NATO mission — dubbed Resolute Support (RS) — confirmed that Gen. Smiley is among the casualties.
Reuters learned from an RS spokesperson that “Smiley, commander of Resolute Support’s training and advisory mission in southern Afghanistan, was shot when a member of the provincial governor’s bodyguard opened fire on a group of officials leaving a meeting with the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Scott Mille.”
Referring to Afghan Gen. Raziq, Reuters noted, “The attack, which was claimed by the Taliban, was a devastating blow to the government, decapitating the security command of one of Afghanistan’s most strategically important provinces and demonstrating the insurgents’ ability to strike even top leaders.”
In a statement issued soon after the attack, the Taliban claimed that Gen. Scott Miller, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and Gen. Raziq were the main targets.
“This is just a message to the Afghan government and U.S. military commanders that whenever and wherever we want, we can enter and carry out attacks on them,” a Taliban commander in Helmand told Reuters.
The U.S.-NATO mission believes the Taliban targeted Raziq, not Gen. Miller.
“My assessment is that I was not the target. It was a very close confined space. But I don’t assess that I was the target,” Miller told Afghanistan’s TOLO News TV, Reuters reported.
“They [Taliban] didn’t want repercussions from the U.S. and the international community. It was a pure warning for Miller that they can hit him if they want to,” an Afghan official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Thursday’s attack reportedly caught the American military by surprise, WaPo reported, noting that “general officers are rarely in situations where they face attack, and even more rarely wounded.”
The Taliban found out “very late that the U.S. general would be present at the talks with local security officials,” Reuters noted.
On Monday, a separate insider attack claimed the life of a U.S.-NATO mission service member and wounded two others in western Afghanistan’s Herat province.
“Initial reports indicate the attack was committed by a member of the Afghan security forces,” RS noted in a press release.