Mayor of Kandahar killed in bomb blast

The mayor of Kandahar has been killed by a suicide bomber, just two weeks after the Afghan president's half-brother was gunned down in the southern Taliban stronghold, officials said today.

Politician Bismullah Afghan Mal said Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi died when a suicide attacker arrived at his office in Kandahar in this morning.

Deputy police chief in Kandahar province Sher Shah Yousafzai confirmed the killing.

The mayor had been suggested as a replacement for President Hamid Karzai's powerful half-brother, who was shot dead by a close associate in his heavily fortified home on July 12.

Ahmed Wali Karzai's assassination set off a power struggle in Kandahar and raised doubts about stability in an area critical to the US-led war effort.

Today's attack took place at a government building in the heart of Kandahar city.

Zalmai Ayubi, spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor, said one civilian was also killed in the blast and another civilian and a security guard were injured.

"The suicide bomber put explosives inside his turban," said Mr Yousafzai. "As soon as the mayor came to work, the attacker detonated his explosives."

Kandahar police officials said that yesterday the mayor travelled to a district of the city where there was a dispute about the construction of houses.

They said the attacker infiltrated the group which came to talk to the mayor about that issue today.