Taliban militants on Tuesday opened fire on a delegation of senior Afghan officials including two of President Hamid Karzai’s brothers visiting villages in southern Afghanistan where a US soldier is suspected of killing 16 civilians.
The attack came as students in Jalalabad in the east staged the first significant protest in response to Sunday’s shootings,raising worries of a repeat of the wave of violent demonstrations that rocked the nation after last month’s burning of holy Quran by troops at a US base.
The militants killed an Afghan soldier who was providing security for the delegation in Balandi village,said Gen Abdul Razaq,the police chief for Kandahar province where the visit took place. Another Afghan soldier and a military prosecutor were wounded,he said.
The delegation,which included two of President Karzai’s brothers and other senior officials,was in a mosque for a memorial service for those killed on Sunday when the gunfire erupted.
One of the president’s brothers,Qayum Karzai,said the attack didn’t seem serious to him.
We were giving them our condolences,then we heard two very,very light shots, said Karzai. Then we assumed that it was the national army that started to fire in the air.
He said the members of the delegation,which also included Kandahar Gov Tooryalai Wesa and Minister of Border and Tribal Affairs Asadullah Khalid,were safe and headed back to Kandahar city.
Before the attack on the delegation,the Taliban vowed to kill and behead those responsible for the civilian deaths in the two villages in Panjwai district,considered the birthplace of the militant group.