Suicide bomber kills Kandahar's deputy governor in blast; Taliban claims responsibility
Saturday, January 29, 2011; 12:30 PM
KABUL - A suicide bomber on a motorcycle loaded with explosives killed the deputy governor of Kandahar province Saturday, the provincial governor said at a news conference.
The attacker steered his bike into a car carrying Abdul Latif Ashna, who was traveling to his office in a convoy, the governor said. The Taliban asserted responsibility for the blast, which also wounded the deputy governor's driver and two bodyguards.
Kandahar's governor, Tooryalai Wesa, condemned the killing as "un-Islamic, un-Afghani, cowardly and inhumane."
Afghan government officials and prominent elders have been the targets of an ongoing campaign of assassinations in Kandahar, a southern province that is the cradle of the Taliban movement.
The attack occurred a day after a suicide bombing at a grocery store in the capital, Kabul, that killed at least eight people. Initial reports said that three foreigners had been killed, but the Ministry of Interior amended that, saying that no foreigners were killed in the grocery bombing.
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander of the U.S.-led coalition, praised Ashna for not being intimidated.
"Ashna faced danger throughout his public career from the insurgency, but he never let that interfere with his service," Petraeus said in a statement.
The general noted that Ashna had survived a 2009 strike by five suicide bombers against the Kandahar provincial council that resulted in the death of 13 people.
Ashna, an engineer who had taught at Kabul University, became deputy governor last May after having directed Kandahar's branch of the Afghan Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, according to a profile of the province by the Naval Postgraduate School.
"Ashna was just the right kind of honest technocrat that Kandahar and the rest of the country need to build a credible civil service," said Bill Harris, the former head of the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team.
Special correspondent Javed Hamdard contributed to this report.