Four Afghan officials targeted in recent assassinations

A slew of assassinations of Afghan officials has the US and the Afghan government on edge about Taliban inroads, particularly in the south, where the assassinations have been concentrated. Here’s a who’s who of four top officials who have been killed in the past few months:

Ghulam Haider Hamidi, mayor of Kandahar

Provincial Media Center/AP
In this undated image, Kandahar Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi addresses a press conference in Kandahar. Hamidi was assassinated Wednesday by a suicide bomber who hid explosives in his turban, Afghan officials said.

Mr. Hamidi today became the most recent casualty among high-level public figures from the country’s south.

A suicide bomber entered the municipal compound with a group of people who were there to talk to Hamidi about home demolitions. Explosives that were concealed in the bomber’s turban went off when he came in to shake Hamidi’s hand.

The Taliban claim Hamidi’s death is part of their campaign to kill government officials this summer, the Monitor reported.

Despite US and Afghan government assertions that they are making gains against the Taliban, the fact that several top officials have been killed in recent months raises doubts.

Hamidi was praised for his honesty in a region known for its corrupt public officials.

The mayor’s death adds to the province’s growing leadership deficit as officials seek to fill the power void left by Ahmad Wali [Karzai, who was murdered earlier this month]. There was some speculation that Hamidi would replace the current governor in an effort to make up for the loss of the president’s brother.

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