Kandahar warlord and Karzai half-brother assassinated

Ahmed Wali Karzai—half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, head of the Kandahar Provincial Council, and the province’s de facto ruling warlord—was assassinated July 12 at one of his five mansions by a senior commander of his own security detail, Sardar Mohammad. The assassin—a member of Karzai’s extended clan, the Popalzai, and a trusted family associate for decades—was immediately gunned down by the other bodyguards. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. The Interior Ministry says an investigation is underway and several people who were guarding the home have been taken into custody. Cables released by WikiLeaks last year revealed suspicions by US diplomats that Karzai was involved in Afghan’s opium trade. After one meeting with US envoy Frank Ruggiero in September 2009, the diplomat said of Karzai, known by the acronym “AWK”: “While we must deal with AWK as the head of the provincial council, he is widely understood to be corrupt and a narcotics trafficker.” (AFP, ABC, MSNBC World Blog, July 12)

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  1. Another Kandahar turban-bombing
    A suicide bomber on July 27 killed the mayor of Kandahar City, depriving Afghan President Hamid Karzai of yet another ally in southern Afghanistan. The slaying of Ghulam Haider Hamidi—a childhood friend of the Karzai family and a naturalised US citizen who had returned to Afghanistan at the President’s personal request—comes just two weeks after a trusted bodyguard gunned down Ahmed Wali Karzai, the president’s half-brother. The bombing took place as Hamidi met with elders outside his office protesting against the demolition of homes built unlawfully on Kandahar City’s northern fringe. One of the men stepped forward, took Hamidi’s hand and detonated the bomb hidden in his turban. The previous day, clashes had erupted as bulldozers went into the largely pro-Taliban area to knock down the illegal housing. (The Independent, July 28)