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U.S. Officials Decry Killings In Kandahar Two Days Ahead Of National Elections


General Abdul Raziq, Kandahar police chief, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in 2016.

Top U.S. officials have decried the killing of a powerful police chief in southern Afghanistan just two days before national elections and urged the Afghan people not to let it deter them from going to the polls.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called the killing of General Abdul Raziq, the Kandahar police chief who reportedly was gunned down by a bodyguard, a "tragic loss of a patriot" as he visited Singapore on October 19.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decried the loss of Raziq and another high-level Afghan official in the attack, and urged the Afghan people to remain true to their ideals despite the Taliban's efforts to intimidate voters through such violence.

"Recent attacks against parliamentary candidates in the final days of campaigning in Afghanistan stand in stark contrast to the aspirations of the Afghan people for peace, security, and economic stability," Pompeo said in a statement. "The right and desire of the Afghan people for their votes to be counted must be respected."

Mattis said it was too early to tell whether the high-profile attack will discourage voting in the parliamentary elections. The Taliban has warned people not to participate in what the militants consider foreign-imposed polls.

"Terrorism can have a short-term effect. I think it's too early to say if it will have any real effect on the election," Mattis said.

"I'm not willing to say that right now. And obviously [insurgents] are not good at ballots. They are good at bombs."

Mattis said the attack will not shake the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan.

"We remain absolutely committed to an Afghan-led Afghan reconciliation," he said. "Right now, we're going toward the election and we will continue to defend the Afghan people."

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters
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