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Kandahar mayor killed in Taliban suicide attack

The mayor of Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province was killed Wednesday morning in a suicide attack claimed by the Taliban.

Police said Ghulam Haidar Hameedi was making an address at the city hall in Kandahar city when a suicide bomber detonated explosives hidden in his turban.

A civilian also died in the attack.

Taliban spokesperson Qari Yousef Ahmadi told the Associated Press news agency that Hameedi had ordered the destruction of homes that city officials said were constructed illegally.

He said Hameedi was assassinated to avenge the deaths of two children who they allege were killed during the demolition work.

The new US ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, condemned the killing, along with General John Allen, the new commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

During his first briefing at the US embassy in Kabul, Crocker described the attack as “an indication of the challenges ahead”, reported the BBC.

The death of Hameedi comes two weeks after President Hamid Karzai’s half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai was shot and killed by a close associate in his Kandahar home.

(GlobalPost in photos: Tensions in Kandahar after Ahmad Wali Karzai killing; plus Kandahar’s ubiquitous checkpoints)

Al Jazeera said the death of Ahmad Wali left “a dangerous power vacuum” in Kandahar.

Last week, government advisor and former governor of Uruzgan province in the south, Jan Mohammad Khan, was assassinated in a suicide attack, also in his home, in the capital Kabul. Both killings were claimed by the Taliban.

Crocker said the spate of assassinations, and the fact the Taliban are resorting to terrorist attacks, could indicate that they are a damaged force.

Clearly these are horrific attacks but they can also be interpreted as a sign of organizational weakness on the part of the adversary.

A United Nations report said Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, was the site of over half of all targeted killings in Afghanistan between April and June this year.

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