KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - The outspoken mayor of Kandahar, a self-style corruption fighter and persistent thorn in the side of Canadian officials in the Afghan city, was assassinated today.
Ghulam Haider Hamidi was killed by a suicide bomber whose turban was laced with explosives and is the second top official to be murdered in the war-ravaged city this month.
The mayor had been mentioned as a possible replacement for provincial council head Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half-brother of the president, who was gunned down July 12 in his heavily-fortified home by a long-time employee and friend.
Hamidi, who has family in Toronto, spent 30 years in exile in Arlington, Virginia as an accountant before being appointed mayor of the volatile provincial capital by President Hamid Karzai in 2007.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for his murder, saying it was revenge over a land dispute involving the demolition of illegally constructed homes.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi told The Associated Press that Hamidi had ordered the destruction of homes that city officials claimed had been illegally constructed.
Ahmadi says the Taliban killed the mayor to avenge the deaths of two children who they allege were killed during the demolition work.
Hamidi was the third major powerbroker from the south to be slain this month.
Hamidi had survived other assassination attempts, including a 2009 bombing, which prompted Canadian officials to buy him an armour-plated SUV.