Kandahar: The mayor of Kandahar was assassinated on Wednesday by a suicide bomber who hid explosives in his turban — the second top official to be slain in the southern Taliban stronghold this month, Afghan officials said.
Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi had been mentioned as a person to replace President Hamid Karzai's powerful half brother who was gunned down July 12 in his heavily fortified home by a close associate.
The assassination of Ahmed Wali Karzai set off a power struggle in Kandahar and raised doubts about the strength of the president's support in the south as well as the stability of the critical area for the US-led war effort.
Wednesday's blast took place at a government building in the heart of Kandahar city.
Zalmai Ayubi, spokesman for Kandahar provincial governor, said one civilian also was killed and another civilian and a security guard were wounded in the explosion.
"The suicide bomber put explosives inside his turban," said Sher Shah Yousafzai, deputy police chief in Kandahar province. "As soon as the mayor came to work, the attacker detonated his explosives."
Bismullah Afghan Mal, a member of the upper house of parliament from Kandahar, confirmed the mayor's death.
Kandahar police officials said the mayor traveled on Tuesday to a district in the city where there was a dispute about the construction of houses. They said the attacker infiltrated the group that came on Wednesday to talk to the mayor about that issue.
Meanwhile the Taliban said that they sent the suicide bomber who killed the mayor of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi had ordered the destruction of homes that city officials claimed had been illegally constructed.
Ahmadi says the Taliban killed the mayor to avenge the deaths of two children who they allege were killed during the demolition work.
First Published: Wednesday, July 27, 2011, 12:51