Ahmed Wali Karzai killing sparks fears of turmoil in Kandahar

Brother of Afghan president Hamid Karzai shot dead by security guard was seen as keystone of security in the south

Lianne Gutcher in Kabul and Julian Borger
diplomatic editor
Ahmed Wali Karzai
Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, was shot dead in his home by a security guard. Photograph: S Sabawoon/EPA
The president confirmed the death at a press conference in Kabul intended to mark the visit of the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to the capital.
“Ahmed Wali Karzai was killed at about 11.30am,” General Abdul Razaq, Kandahar’s chief of border police, said. “He was killed by his bodyguard inside his house.” Officials said the assassin, named as Sardar Mohammed, reportedly Ahmed Wali Karzai’s chief of security, had been killed on the spot.
“After Sardar Mohammed killed Ahmed Wali Karzai, other bodyguards shot Sardar Mohammed,” Colonel Mohammad Mohsen, of the Afghan national army 205 Atal (Hero) Corps in Kandahar, said.
“The bodies have been taken to the [local] hospital. We expect some officials including President Karzai to come to Kandahar for his brother’s funeral.”
Razaq said an investigation into the assassination was under way, but according to initial reports from Kandahar, Sardar entered his boss’s home and approached him with papers to sign, shooting him at close range with a pistol concealed under the papers.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assassination, saying it was one of their “biggest and most successful” operations. However, western officials said it was possible that he could have been killed as part of a settling of scores among tribal leaders or drug traffickers. Ahmed Wali Karzai had frequently been accused by western officials of being a regional kingpin and warlord in the opium trade. He also faced allegations of being on the CIA’s payroll. He rejected all the charges, claiming they were made by western forces to cover their own shortcomings.
Ahmed Wali Karzai was a powerful figure in Afghan politics. He had been a member of the provincial council in Kandahar since 2005 and was its chief at the time of his death, although his family, tribal and business contacts gave him influence far beyond his official title.
“He was the president of Kandahar,” said provincial elder Abdul Samat Zarih. “The governor, police chiefs and other officials all had to discuss things with him before they made a decision.”
Zarih added that Ahmed Wali Karzai had many enemies, including the Taliban. “Maybe the Taliban killed him because he was close to the government. Maybe he didn’t obey or follow whatever the foreigners said to him. It’s a situation in which you can’t figure out what is going on,” he said.

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