Afghanistan Crossroads

Kandahar deputy mayor laid to rest

Family and friends buried the deputy mayor of Kandahar, Afghanistan on Tuesday, a day after he was shot while traveling home from work.

"Several young men on motorcycles came up on either side of his car and shot him," said Maj. Bruce Drake, a spokesman for US and NATO forces in southern Afghanistan.

Local Afghan officials say the gunmen escaped. Doctors struggled to save the deputy mayor, Noor Ahmad Nazari - first at a hospital in Kandahar, and then at the foreign military hospital at the sprawling NATO airbase on the outskirts of the city.

"This is bad news for us," said Zalmai Ayudi, a spokesman for the governor of Kandahar. "This was the tactic of the insurgents. As soon as the pressure comes on them at the village level, they show their presence."

Nazari had been in office for a few months when he was killed. He took the position after his predecessor, Azizullah Yarmal, was killed last spring while praying in a mosque.

Assassinations have become a weekly, if not daily, occurrence over the past year in Afghanistan's largest southern city.

"Where before you had power brokers being eliminated, now you have their brothers and nephews being eliminated because they are seen as rivals," said Candace Rondeaux, senior Kabul-based analyst with the International Crisis Group.

"It's an extremely dangerous time to be involved in any way in politics in Kandahar and I think it will remain that way as long as American operations continue there," Rondeaux said.

Kandahar had been the governing capital of Afghanistan until a U.S. bombing campaign led to the swift collapse of the Taliban government in 2001.

Today, international and Afghan forces are struggling to win back territory in surrounding districts from tenacious Taliban fighters. Before dawn on Tuesday, a series of rockets roared up over the city, leaving blinding white, comet-like trails.

The dramatic show of military force was part of a US attack on a suspected insurgent target, a NATO spokesman later said.

"Task Force Raider fired 8 rockets at a suspected home-made explosives manufacturing facility," said Drake, speaking by telephone from Kandahar Air Field. "They destroyed about 1,000 pounds of explosive."

Drake said he believed the explosives-making facility was on the outskirts of Kandahar, while Task Force Rider is based in the city.

Insurgents have scattered of primitive, but deadly road-side bombs across Afghanistan. Often made out of fertilizer, they are the deadliest threat facing American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Coalition spokesmen said improvised explosive devices killed one foreign soldier in two southern provinces on Monday - one in Uruzgan and the other in Zabul. 2010 has been the deadliest year yet for foreign troops nine-year conflict against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

CNN's Matiullah Mati contributed to this report