Suicide blast kills mayor of Afghanistan’s Kandahar

Suicide blast kills mayor of Afghanistan’s Kandahar
# 27 July 2011 17:44 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. A suicide bomber killed the mayor of Afghanistan’s Kandahar Wednesday, a further blow to stability in the southern city still reeling from the assassination two weeks ago of President Hamid Karzai’s powerbroker half-brother, APA reports siting Reuters.
The death of Mayor Ghulam Haidar Hamidi, a U.S. 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 U.S. 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. The buildings were unplanned, he added.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi initially said it was too early to tell what had happened but later claimed responsibility for killing Hamidi.
Ahmadi said the mayor had been on a Taliban hit-list and the main motivation for the attack was the deaths of the woman and children when the buildings were destroyed.
The Taliban are normally very quick to claim responsibility for the deaths of high-profile political figures.