Suicide bomber kills Kandahar mayor

Suicide bomber kills Kandahar mayor

Assassination the latest in a string of hits on powerful Afghan leaders

Kandahar Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi. AP

The death of Mayor Ghulam Haidar Hamidi, a US citizen, is the latest in a string of assassinations of powerful southern leaders and Karzai allies that could weaken the president’s hold on an area that has long been a Taliban stronghold.

Two of Hamidi’s deputy mayors were killed in attacks by insurgents last year, and in the last four months the provincial police chief, top cleric and leading powerbroker — Karzai’s brother — have all been assassinated.

While it is unclear if all these were the work of insurgents, they have stirred up uncertainty and fears of greater instability at a time when foreign troops are starting a hand over to Afghan forces. Kandahar province is the Taliban’s birthplace and a focus of recent efforts by a surge of US troops to turn the tide against the insurgency in the decade-long war.

Hamidi, 65, was killed and one person was wounded when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in a corridor near Hamidi’s office, said Zalmay Ayoubi, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Kandahar police chief Abdul Razaq said Hamidi was meeting elders from a city district when one of them got close to the mayor and detonated a bomb hidden in his turban.

The mayor wanted to speak with the elders after they accused city staff of killing a woman and two children when they bulldozed some houses and shops Tuesday, Razaq said.

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