Afghan president’s younger brother assassinated
KANDAHAR AFGHAN President Hamid Karzai’s younger brother, the government’s key powerbroker in the south of the country, was assassinated on Tuesday, depriving NATO of a vital if controversial ally.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for killing Ahmed Wali Karzai in his own home, while the Kandahar provincial police chief said he was shot dead by the long-serving commander of his family’s personal protection force.
President Karzai confirmed his brother’s death at a news conference with visiting French leader Nicolas Sarkozy.
“This morning, my younger brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai was martyred at his house,” he said, reciting a Muslim prayer in Arabic.
“This is the life of the people of Afghanistan.
Afghan families, every one of us, have suffered from it, and we hope, God willing, for our suffering to be over,” he said.
The half-brother of the Afghan leader was for years a deeply controversial figure, dogged by allegations of unsavoury links to Afghanistan’s lucrative opium trade and private security firms.
But his killing raises disturbing questions about possible infiltration among those closest to the Karzai family and is also a severe blow to NATO and the Afghan leadership in Kandahar, the heartland of the Taliban insurgency.
The incident comes as coalition troops start withdrawing from the country and Western nations search for a political solution after a decade of war.
Kandahar police chief Abdul Razeq identified the assassin as Sardar Mohammad, the commander of a force of 200 bodyguards who had provided security for the younger Karzai’s family in Kandahar city for seven years.
He said Mohammed showed a letter to bodyguards at the house in the upmarket neighbourhood of Bala Karz, saying he had “urgent” business with Karzai — head of the Kandahar provincial council — and was ushered into his study alone.
“Moments later the bodyguards hear the sound of gunshots and when they enter the room they find Ahmed Wali Karzai shot in the head and chest, and in a pool of blood,” he said.
“The bodyguards riddle Sardar with bullets.
Ahmed Wali Karzai died on the spot,” he said, adding that the assassin and his victim, no one else died in the attack.
The police chief and an official at the hospital where Karzai’s body was taken both said he had been shot in the head and the chest.
A senior official with Afghanistan’s spy agency, the National Directorate for Security (NDS), confirmed the account of the killing by Mohammad who he said was an elder in Karzai’s home village.
“They were meeting alone in a room,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Sardar takes off his pistol and shoots him twice.” Describing the gunman as in “his late 30s or early 40s”, he added: “Wali knew him from a long time ago.”