Former Taliban deputy interior minister killed in Afghanistan

Gunmen Saturday shot dead a former Taliban leader who renounced the extremist regime after it was ousted in 2001 and has since supported Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government, eyewitnesses and police said. Two men on a motorbike shot dead Mohammed Khaksar, the former Taliban deputy interior minister, as he was walking with two of his children in the southern city of Kandahar, said Mohammed Jan Khan, a student who witnessed the shooting.

He said the men shot Khaksar in the head and the heart and the victim collapsed on a road in the city, a former Taliban stronghold. Khaksar's brother, Abdullah Jan, and city police chief Gen. Abdul Wahid confirmed he had been killed.

Khaksar secretly contacted the United States in 1999 to seek American help in stopping the Taliban, and renounced the movement after its collapse. Last September, he ran as a candidate in legislative elections, but lost. In an interview at the time with The Associated Press, Khaksar said holdouts from the former regime who are waging an insurgency across parts of the country had threatened his life several times. The former deputy minister said he supported President Hamid Karzai, as well as the deployment of international forces here, reports the AP. N.U.