Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 12:13 UK

Afghan deputy mayor shot dead at prayer in Kandahar

Map of Kandahar

Taliban gunmen have shot dead the deputy mayor of the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

Azizollah Yarmal was killed while praying at a mosque late on Monday, officials said. The gunmen escaped.

The militants later said they killed Mr Yarmal. He is the latest in a series of officials to be targeted in the area.

The attacks come as Nato and Afghan troops prepare for a major offensive against the Taliban in Kandahar province, a key insurgent stronghold.

Provincial spokesman Zalmai Ayubi said Mr Yarmal was shot while he and dozens of others were praying. No arrests have been made.

"This is the work of the enemies of Afghanistan. They don't want these honest people to serve the Afghan people and work in government institutions," Mr Ayubi said.

Correspondents say mosques provide little security for officials, making them vulnerable to attacks while at prayer.

The deputy mayor's death is the latest in a string of killings in the city of Kandahar and the surrounding province.

Kandhar was the country's designated capital during Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001 and has been the centre of their increasingly violent insurgency since they were overthrown in the US-led invasion of 2001.

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Philadelphia Inquirer Rebels gun down a U.S. ally in Kandahar - 7 hrs ago
Times of India Dy mayor of Kandahar shot while praying - 20 hrs ago
Los Angeles Times Gunmen kill Kandahar official praying in mosque - 29 hrs ago Insurgents suspected in slaying of Kandahar deputy mayor - 29 hrs ago
Melbourne Age Afghan deputy mayor slain while praying - 32 hrs ago

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