Militants Attack Memorial for Victims of Afghan Killings
Militants riding motorcycles attacked a high-level Afghan government delegation during a memorial service on Tuesday in the village where an American soldier is said to have killed 16 people, mostly children and women, in a door-to-door rampage two days earlier.
The Tuesday assault, on a mosque in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province, left at least one Afghan soldier dead and punctured the calm that had largely prevailed in Afghanistan since the massacre. There was no immediate claim of responsibility from the Taliban, whose roots are in the area. But the attack belied the Afghan government’s efforts to present itself as in control of the situation in Kandahar, where anger over Sunday’s killings is perhaps deepest.
A reporter for The New York Times at the memorial described 20 minutes of heavy gunfire that pinned down members of the delegation, including Qayum Karzai and Shah Wali Karzai, brothers of President Hamid Harzai; Gen. Shir Muhammad Karami, the chief of staff of the Afghan Army; the provincial governor, Tooryalai Wesa; and the deputy interior minister, Gen. Abdul Rahman Rahman. They appeared to have escaped unharmed, and soon after the gunfire subsided sped back to Kandahar city, the provincial capital, on a highway closed to other traffic.
Abdul Rahim Ayobi, a member of Parliament from the province, said bullets had struck near the delegation. An Afghan military prosecutor and a second person were injured, said Gen. Abdul Raziq, the Kandahar provincial police chief, who confirmed the death of the soldier.
The militants were armed with machine guns and assault rifles. They appeared to have suffered some casualties, and left behind at least one of their motorcycles.