Suicide Bomber Kills Mayor of Afghanistan’s Kandahar City

Posted July 27th, 2011 at 4:55 pm (UTC-5)
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A suicide bomber has killed the mayor of Afghanistan's southern city of Kandahar, the latest in a series of high-profile assassinations of key allies of President Hamid Karzai.

Witnesses say Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi was meeting with constituents about the land dispute Wednesday when the bomber blew himself up near his office. Local authorities have not yet determined the motive or the identity of the attacker, who hid the bomb in his turban.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack that killed at least one other person. The group said the attack was to avenge the deaths of two children and a woman allegedly killed during the city's recent demolition of illegally constructed homes.

Hamidi escaped previous attempts on his life. His death follows last week's targeted killing in Kabul of a member of parliament who also was a senior advisor to President Hamid Karzai. And earlier this month in Kandahar, a trusted bodyguard shot and killed President Karzai's half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for all the attacks.

President Karzai and the international coalition issued separate statements condemning the latest killing.

In other violence, French soldiers killed three Afghan civilians late Tuesday when they opened fire on a car after the driver failed to stop as he approached NATO troops. The incident occurred in Kapisa province, north of the capital, Kabul.

In northern Kunduz province, three children were killed and four people wounded late Tuesday when a rocket fired by insurgents hit their house in Char Dara district.

The increased violence comes as Afghans begin taking security control of parts of the country from U.S. and NATO-led forces.

About 33,000 American forces are set to leave Afghanistan by September of 2012. Last week, the first seven areas of Afghanistan were transitioned from NATO control to Afghan forces. Foreign combat troops are set to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.