A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL
Ahmad Wali Karzai, a brother of Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, has been assassinated in his home town of Kandahar. Afghan officials say Ahmad Wali Karzai, who was the head of Kandahar Provincial Council, was shot dead today inside his home in the southern city. A local lawmaker told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that the assassination was carried out by Sardar Muhammad, a close associate of the Karzai family. Haji Agha Lali Dastagiri said Sardar Mohammad was a long-serving former bodyguard of Ahmad Wali's older brother, Qayum, and a trusted man in the family. Some other reports, however, said Sardar Mohammad was a member of Ahmad Wali Karzai's own security detail. Officials in Afghanistan have not yet declared the identity of the killer, who was immediately shot dead by guards. 'Life Of The Afghan People' President Karzai confirmed his brother's assassination when he appeared at a joint press conference with visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy, saying the killing reflected the sorrow of the Afghan people. "As you have already heard, my younger brother Ahmad Wali Karzai was martyred today at his home. This is the life of the Afghan people," he said. "In each household in Afghanistan, we have experienced such misery. We hope that the sufferings of the Afghan people come to an end, God willing, and that peace and a security prevail in our country so that no Afghan family ever again faces the pains and suffering we've all experienced." The details and circumstances of the killing are still unclear. A statement from the Kandahar governor's office said an investigation was under way, without giving further details. Siddiq Siddiqi, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told Radio Free Afghanistan that it is too early to confirm "unofficial and different accounts that he was killed by a bodyguard or a person from his inner circle." "Our team is on the scene and we are still waiting to get the conclusion of their investigation," Siddiqi said. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the assassination, calling it one of their "biggest achievements." A spokesman for the group told the AFP news agency that the Taliban had assigned a gunman to kill the powerful politician in the restive south. Many Enemies The 49-year-old Ahmad Wali Karzai was considered one of the most influential and controversial politicians in Afghanistan and is believed to have made many enemies. The politician had previously survived at least two assassination attempts, including an attack on his convoy in 2009. In 2008, a powerful blast occurred near a government building where Ahmad Wali Karzai was chairing a meeting. He blamed the Taliban for the attack, which killed six people and wounded dozens more. Ahmad Wali Karzai was an ally of the U.S. and the West. But he had also been dogged by allegations of corruption and links to the drugs trade and he was accused of having a personal militia at his disposal. Ahmad Wali Karzai had been seen by some as a political liability for the president, who repeatedly defended his brother and denied accusations of his involvement in drug trafficking or criminal activities. In 2009, "The New York Times" reported that Ahmad Wali Karzai had received regular payments over several years from the CIA for various services. "The agency paid him for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the CIA's direction in and around Kandahar," the newspaper wrote today.
Technically, Ahmad Wali Karzai was President Karzai's half-brother, as they shared the same father but had different mothers. Their father, Abdul Ahad Karzai -- a lawmaker and the head the Popalzai Pashtun tribe – was assassinated by Taliban gunmen in July 1999.with agency reports
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