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Pentagon acknowledges US general hurt in Kandahar attack

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Smiley (RT), Commanding General of the 40th Infantry Division, California Army National Guard, discusses the situational battlefield during the daily command update brief at the U.S. Army's Joint Multinational Readiness Center's training area in Hohenfels, Germany Nov. 17, 2017, during exercise Allied Spirit VII. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. David Overson)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Smiley was wounded in the attack in Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar last week that killed two senior Afghan officials, the Pentagon says.

“I can confirm that he is recovering from a gunshot wound he received during the attack in Kandahar,” U.S. military spokesman Navy Commander Grant Neeley said on October 21.

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

The Pentagon said one U.S. civilian and a coalition contractor were also wounded in the October 18 attack that was claimed by the Taliban.

The police chief and intelligence head of Kandahar Province were killed in the assault, which came just two days before Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections. The vote was delayed in the 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.