KABUL — A suicide bomber in a police uniform assassinated the provincial police chief in Kandahar on Friday afternoon, the latest in a series of high-profile killings of government officials in the southern city, according to Afghan officials.
The bomber blew himself up as Haji Khan Mohammad Mojayed, a police general, was leaving his heavily fortified office in downtown Kandahar. Flanked by bodyguards, he walked into the courtyard within the base and was approached by the bomber, who was dressed in a police uniform, said Ghulam Haidar Hamidi, the mayor of Kandahar.
“The man greeted him and hugged him and then blew himself up,” Hamidi said.
Two other members of the Afghan National Police were killed and three were wounded in the attack, officials said.
Mojayed had survived at least three previous attempts on his life since assuming the top police post in Kandahar.
The police headquarters, which is shared by U.S. soldiers who mentor the fledgling Afghan force, has come under attack before. In an orchestrated assault in February, insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades from an adjacent wedding hall and exploded cars and rickshaws around the perimeter of the base. Mojayed survived that and other attempts on his life, but he knew he was a marked man.
“The insurgents are trying to show to the people and the world that they exist,” Mojayed said in an interview in February. “The first obstacle on their way is the police, and they always attack the police forces. They think by getting rid of us they can achieve their goals.”
President Hamid Karzai and Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, condemned Friday’s suicide bombing.
“This attack was the act of cowardly insurgents desperate to prevent the empowerment of the Afghan Security Forces and the Afghan people,” Petraeus said in a statement.
Mojayed was a leader of the Alokozai tribe, which had been marginalized from positions of government authority and influence during the war. The appointment of Mojayed marked one of the few times that a powerful provincial post was given to an Alokozai. His brother, Haji Niaz Mohammad, held another such post, as district police chief in neighboring Arghandab.
Insurgents have waged an intense campaign to kill government officials in Kandahar and discourage others from supporting the U.S.-backed government. Dozens of local officials were shot to death or blown up by insurgents last year.