Khan Mohammad Mujahid, the police chief of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, has been killed in a suicide attack at the police headquarters in the provincial capital, officials confirm.
The interior ministry confirmed to Al Jazeera that at least two other senior police officers were killed in the attack, one of them an anti-terrorism officer, which took place just outside the heavily guarded police headquarters.
A suicide bomber penetrated the defences of the headquarters in Kandahar city, a spokesman for the provincial governor said.
"Initial information shows that the police chief and two other policemen were killed inside his office," said Zalmay Ayoubi, the spokesman.
"The suicide attacker had strapped explosives to his body," Shir Shah, the province's deputy police chief, said.
"He detonated himself at the gate of Kandahar police headquarters. Police chief Khan Mohammad Mujahid has been martyred, [and] two policemen have been injured."
Yusuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, said one of its members was behind the latest attack.
"He had disguised himself as a policeman and shot the police chief with his pistol, hugged him and then detonated himself," Ahmadi said.
Khan Mohammad Mujahid was one of the most prominent government targets in one of Afghanistan's most dangerous provinces. He had survived two previous attacks, one on his home and one on his motorcade as it travelled through the city.
"The police chief was appointed by [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai about a year and a half ago, particularly to put an end to the rise of the Taliban. And he managed to make some successes, particularly in the Arghandab district," reported Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra from Kabul.
"He came from an extremely powerful tribe ... he was also a tribal chief, and he had been trying his best over the last few years to help President Karzai maintain a sense of security and stability in different parts of Afghanistan - he was a former police chief in Kabul, also in Mazar-e-Sharif."
Southern Kandahar is the spiritual heartland of the Taliban, and has seen heavy fighting over the last year as the US-led coalition had launched an offensive in the area to try to reclaim the city and farmland that surrounds it.
The killing is the latest in a string of attacks on the 120,000-strong Afghan police force, which is due to take over security responsibilities as coalition troops prepare for a scheduled withdrawal in 2014.
Last month, six Afghan security personnel were killed as Taliban gunmen detonated a bomb hidden in an ambulance near a police centre near Kandahar.
In February, 19 people, including 15 police personnel and an intelligence agent, were killed in an attack on a police office.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies