Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi was killed inside the heavily fortified compound of a government building in the heart of Kandahar city just before he was to meet with citizens involved in a land dispute, according to Mohammad Nabi, an employee of the mayor’s office. The explosion occurred when somebody holding a piece of paper approached him as he was walking with another person, Nabi said. It is believed the suicide bomber had hidden the explosives in his turban.
Hasmidi is the third high-level politician in southern Afghanistan to be killed in just over two weeks. Ahmed Wali Karzai half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, was gunned down in his home in Kandahar. Jan Mohammad Khan, an adviser to President Karzai on tribal issues, was gunned down in his home in Kabul. The Taliban have taken credit for all three assassinations.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi told The Associated Press that they killed the Kandahar mayor because he had ordered the destruction of homes that city officials claimed had been illegally constructed. Ahmadi said the mayor was killed to avenge the deaths of two children who were killed during the demolition work.
Mr. Hamidi, who was from Kandahar’s Arghandab district, attended high school in Kandahar and Kabul University. He worked for 13 years in the Afghan Finance Ministry’s budget department and was employed at a government bank. He moved to Pakistan and later to the United States and then returned after the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001.
The death of Mr. Hamidi will raise further concerns about whether military gains by the US in the Kandahar region, particularly in districts adjoining the city, will be undermined by the remorseless killing of top public figures.