Karzai buries half-brother, tabs successor

July 13, 2011 at 3:42 PM
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KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, July 13 (UPI) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai Wednesday buried his half-brother, assassinated the previous day in Kandahar, and named another brother to lead his tribe.

Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Kandahar provincial council chief and a powerful figure in the southern province, was shot and killed by a guard at his home where he had been meeting with other leaders. The Taliban took responsibility, a claim doubted by some.

Mohammad Gulab Mangal, the governor of Helmand province, escaped unhurt earlier Wednesday as two explosions went off as the governor proceeded to attend Karzai's funeral, his office said, CNN reported. The blasts injured two soldiers.

A Kandahar lawmaker told CNN President Karzai attended the funeral of his half-brother.

Saidkhan Khakrezwal, a member of the Kandahar provincial council, told CNN he and others were with the slain Karzai when a guard identified as Sardar Mohammed came into the room to talk to Karzai.

Khakrezwal said the guard, who was later gunned down by other guards, took Karzai into another room where he was killed. The guard had been with Karzai for eight years and had been commander of a police post.

After the funeral, the president met with more than 1,000 tribal elders from southern Afghanistan and asked them to recognize Shah Wali Karzai, a full brother of Ahmed Wali, as head of the family and the larger Populzai tribe, The New York Times reported.

Following Pashtun tribal tradition, he had elders take turns tying one round each of a silk turban on Shah Wali's head.

Among them were Gul Agha Shirzai, a former governor of Kandahar and rival of the slain brother, and leaders of a rival tribe.

The Taliban, which claimed responsibility for Karzai's killing, said the accused shooter was working for them, CNN reported.

Jay Carney, U.S. President Barack Obama's spokesman, said the president condemned Karzai's murder.

"There's been some claims and we will certainly work with the Afghan authorities on that, but right now the moment here is a personal one and we express our condolences," Carney said.

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