Karzai’s Brother Killed by Guard in Kandahar Home

The half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai was assassinated by one of his security guards inside his house in Kandahar on Tuesday morning, a political killing that will reverberate widely through the country and could destabilize a key region in the U.S. military’s campaign against the Taliban, according to witnesses and Afghan officials.

Ahmed Wali Karzai, the head of Kandahar’s provincial council who was widely considered the most powerful man in southern Afghanistan, had been meeting with tribal elders and politicians in his heavily fortified home in downtown Kandahar city when a security guard walked into his meeting room and requested a private discussion, according to two people at the house at the time. Karzai and the guard left for another room, and shortly afterwards three gunshots rang out.
Agha Lalai Destegeri, the deputy provincial council chief, who had been meeting with Karzai Tuesday morning, said he heard the gunfire and rushed in to find Karzai shot in the head, chest and hand.

Karzai’s other guards entered the room and shot and killed the gunman. His entourage drove the bleeding Karzai a short distance across town to Mirwais Hospital but he did not survive, Destegeri and other Afghan officials said.

“He was the number one man in Kandahar,” said Mir Wali Khan, a former parliament member from Helmand province who was at Karzai’s house at the time of the shooting. “We expect now the security of Kandahar will get worse, and the fighting among the tribes will grow stronger and stronger.”

Khan and Destegeri identified the shooter as Sardar Mohammad, who was from the Dand district of Kandahar province. They did not know how long he’d worked with Karzai, who employs a large team of guards and lives on a street barricaded by concrete blocks and manned by police.

Karzai has long been a controversial figure in Afghan politics. He rose to prominence as his brother assumed the presidency and profited off his position to establish a powerful grip on Kandahar, the home of the Taliban insurgency. He was regularly accused of participating in the opium trade and profiting from private security companies. He always adamantly denied these accusations and described them as motivated by his political enemies, of which there were many. Unlike the often tranquil atmosphere at the governor’s office, Karzai’s Kandahar home was a hive of activity, and clearly the center of political power, as tribal leaders, politicians, American diplomats and soldiers, came for his help and counsel.


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