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Governor of key Afghan province sacked

The governor of Afghanistan's key southern Kandahar province said he was sacked by the central government and complained that powerful people in his region had been sabotaging his work.

world Updated: Dec 04, 2008 14:38 IST

The governor of Afghanistan's key southern Kandahar province said on Thursday he was sacked by the central government and complained that powerful people in his region had been sabotaging his work.

Rahmatullah Raufi, a former army general, was appointed as governor of Kandahar province in August, replacing a powerful but controversial former governor, Assadullah Khalid. But after only three months, Raufi told The Associated Press that officials in the capital said he must go.

"Last night I received a call from Kabul saying that you are fired," Raufi said.

"Personally I do not want to work either, because some of the powerful people (in Kandahar) were creating problems in my job," Raufi said, without elaborating. He did not identify who in the government told him he was sacked.

Barna Karimi, an official with Afghanistan's Independent Directorate for Local Governance in Kabul, confirmed Raufi was fired, but did not provide other details.

The southern provinces are the center of the Taliban led insurgency and Kandahar province is the spiritual heartland of the Taliban. The power base of President Hamid Karzai. Karzai's brother is the head of the provincial council. The province is also Afghanistan's second leading producer of opium poppies, behind neighboring Helmand province.

In eastern Khost province, a suicide bomber wearing a police uniform blew up explosives he was carrying at the intelligence service building in Khost town Thursday, killing two police and wounding nine other people, officials said.

A car parked next to the building also exploded shortly after the initial blast, said Khost's deputy governor, Taher Khan Sabarai. Two police were killed and nine other people were wounded, said Gul Mohammadin Mohammadi, a provincial health department official. The bomber was wearing an Afghan police uniform, said Col Greg Julian, the U S military spokesman in Afghanistan. In western Afghanistan gunmen killed two tribal elders on Wednesday, said Rauf Ahmadi, a police spokesman.

The elders were shot in Herat city, a day after they met the Afghan president in Kabul as part of a delegation of elders from Herat province, Ahmadi said. Two other people in the car they were driving in when attacked were wounded, he said.

Ahmadi called the killings "a terrorist act" and said authorities were investigating whether Taliban militants were involved.

Karzai condemned the killings and urged authorities to arrest and punish the perpetrators, a statement from his office said. Karzai is running for re-election next year, and the support of tribal elders is essential for his chances of winning at a time when his popularity has been sliding.

Separately, in the northern Jowzjan province Taliban militants ambushed a police convoy on Wednesday, killing an officer and wounding two other policemen, said Khalil Aminzada, the provincial police chief.

Authorities arrested four suspected Taliban fighters who were involved in the attack, he said.

Taliban attacks are rare in Jowzjan and on Wednesday assault suggests militants are expanding the areas where they operate away from their centers in the south and the east of the country. More than 6,000 people have died so far this year in insurgency related violence, according to an Associated Press tally of figures provided by Afghan and Western officials.

First Published: Dec 04, 2008 14:36 IST