Kandahar Assassinations More Tribal Than Taliban-Driven

The assassination of Kandahar's progressive mayor, Ghulam Haider Hamidi, this week marked the latest in a wave of high-profile killings in Afghanistan, reviving the debate over whether the Taliban is orchestrating a coordinated offensive ahead of America's troop drawdown.

Taliban leaders were quick to claim credit for Hamidi's death, along with that of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's half-brother Ahmed Wali Karzai on July 12.

However, top American officials in the war-torn country, along with one strategic insider who worked closely with Hamidi, are hesitant to verify the Taliban's claims. "Whether Hamidi's killing was really orchestrated by the Taliban is difficult to tell, but I would say no," said Abdullah Sharif, who until recently served as the head of the U.S. State Department's political section at the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team.

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