KANDAHAR - A suicide bomber killed the mayor of Kandahar Wednesday, a further blow to stability in the southern city still reeling from the assassination two weeks ago of President Hamid Karzai's brother. 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. (Reuters)