Militants pulled a deputy provincial governor from his car and shot him dead and killed a former district chief while he prayed in a mosque in the latest attacks on supporters of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, officials said Saturday.

Namatullah Yusuf Zai, southern Nimroz province's deputy governor, was driving to Kabul on Friday to attend a meeting on peace and reconciliation when militants stopped his car and killed him, Gov. Ghulam Dustaqir said. He blamed Taliban rebels for the attack.

Hours later, two insurgents walked into a mosque in neighboring Helmand province and shot a former local district chief in the head while he prayed, Gov. Sher Mohammed Aghunzada.

The militants fled and police launched a massive manhunt for them. Twelve suspects have been arrested, he said.

The attacks came just days after Aghunzada survived an attempted suicide bombing outside his office.

Taliban-led rebels have stepped up attacks recently on prominent pro-Karzai officials, religious leaders and others as part of their campaign to destabilize the region and undermine the country's U.S.-backed government.

Almost 1,500 people have been killed this year in rebel violence, more than any year since the Taliban's ousted in 2001.