South Asia

Kandahar deputy governor killed in suicide attack

US troops and Afghan police inspect the wreckage of the deputy governor's car in Kandahar. Photo: 29 January 2011
Image caption The deputy governor was on his way to his office when a suicide bomber struck

The deputy governor of Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province has been killed in a suicide attack, officials have said.

Abdul Latif Ashna's convoy was attacked as he was being driven to work in Kandahar city.

His spokesman said a suicide bomber on a motorcycle slammed into his car. Three of his bodyguards were wounded in the attack, the spokesman added.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack.

Thousands of US-led forces are fighting insurgents in the province.

US condemnation

"Deputy governor Abdul Latif Ashna had just left his home and was on his way to his office when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up near his vehicle," Kandahar governor Tooryalai Wesa said.

A Taliban spokesman later said it carried out the attack.

"One of our jihadists... blew up his motorcycle near the vehicle of Abdul Latif Ashna, the deputy governor of Kandahar, killing the deputy governor," Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville, in Kabul, says that this type of targeted assassination is a tactic that has been used on a number of occasions by the Taliban.

US ambassador Karl Eikenberry, who was visiting Kandahar on Saturday, condemned the attack but said it would not blunt attempts to defeat the insurgency.

"The loss of a great deputy governor like this is a setback. What we've seen is consistently Afghan government leaders emerge and the people continue to rally in an effort to establish security in this province," he told journalists.

The city is the birthplace of Taliban leader Mullah Omar and has been the scene of several attacks recently.

Two weeks ago a bicycle bomb targeting police vehicles near the city centre wounded at least 10 people, six of whom were civilians and, last month, a suicide car bombing in the city killed three and wounded a further 26 people.