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Anti-Taliban Afghan police chief gunned down in motorcycle attack

May 18, 2013|By Hashmat Baktash and Mark Magnier | This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A police chief who had stood up repeatedly to the Taliban was shot and killed in a drive-by attack by four insurgents on motorcycles, officials said Saturday.

The police chief, Abdul Ghani, was leaving his driveway in his car around 8 p.m. Friday when the attackers rode up on two motorcycles and opened fire, officials said.

He was badly wounded in the shooting and died on the way to the hospital, said Abdul Rahman Zhowandai, a spokesman for the governor of Farah province.

Ghani recently led an anti-Taliban campaign in Farah province, including a crackdown against insurgents in his district of Khaki Safad that resulted in several Taliban leaders being captured and killed. That effort was probably why the Taliban targeted him, officials said.

At the launch of the Taliban’s spring offensive late last month, the group said it would target foreign troops and diplomatic targets. The Taliban and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin -- an affiliate militant group responsible for a car bomb attack Thursday that killed six NATO personnel and nine Afghan civilians in Kabul -- also have vowed to target Afghans working with foreign forces and those assisting the Afghan government.

Political analysts say that with the announced departure late next year of U.S.-led NATO combat troops, insurgents are maneuvering for political advantage through attacks and alliances in hopes of supplanting the government of President Hamid Karzai and his allies.

Those who openly defy the militant groups, as Ghani did, become prime targets both to remove opposition and to send a signal to others who might be thinking of thwarting their ambitions.

Also on Saturday morning, an Afghan National Army vehicle struck a roadside bomb in Farah province’s Bakwa district, killing four soldiers, the Afghan Defense Ministry said in a statement.

[For the Record, 1:25 p.m. PDT May 18: An earlier version of this post gave the name of the victim in the drive-by attack as Abdul Ghazi. His name was Abdul Ghani.]

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mark.magnier@latimes.com

Special correspondent Baktash reported from Kabul and Magnier reported from New Delhi.

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