The mayor of Kandahar was assassinated Wednesday by a suicide bomber who hid explosives inside his turban.
Ghulam Haider Hamidi was the latest victim in a wave of assassinations of high-profile Afghan government officials, including the killing of Hamid Karzai’s half-brother two weeks ago. Kandahar is Afghanistan’s new “assassination capital,” according to the Atlantic Wire.
In an interview in Rolling Stone in February about recent killings in Afghanistan, Hamidi’s media advisor told reporter Michael Hastings that things were only getting worse in the nation:
Better? ... I didn't say better. I said there have been only two targeted killings this week. This calm will not last forever. We have had military operations again and again, and this is not a solution to the problem.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the mayor’s death and the other recent assassinations, but some remain skeptical about the group’s involvement.
U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, however, who is in his first week on the job, said if the Taliban was responsible, it could show the group was getting weaker.
“I would judge that the Taliban is now damaged to the point where they can no longer conduct large-scale operations. They’ve had to kind of regroup and figure out what they can do, and in some cases that has been assassination,” Crocker told reporters at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
“Clearly, these are horrific attacks, but they can also be interpreted as a sign of significant organizational weakness on the part of the adversary.”
It was also reported Wednesday that al-Qaeda, the world’s other foremost terrorist organization, is on the “brink of collapse” because of the recent killing of Osama bin Laden and the toll of seven years of CIA drone strikes.