National News

Suicide bomber kills Afghan president's cousin

Afghan men attend Eid al-Fitr prayers in Kandahar south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 28, 2014. Eid al-Fitr prayer marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.(AP Photo/Allauddin Khan) -
Afghan men attend Eid al-Fitr prayers in Kandahar south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 28, 2014. Eid al-Fitr prayer marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.(AP Photo/Allauddin Khan)
— image credit:

By Amir Shah, The Associated Press

KABUL - A cousin and close associate of outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai was assassinated on Tuesday by a suicide bomber who hid his explosives under his turban, a provincial official said.

The bomber walked up to the home of Hashmat Khalil Karzai to greet him after morning prayers for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, and detonated the explosives after shaking hands with the president's cousin, said the official.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which was reminiscent of the September 2011 killing of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who at the time was the leader of a government-appointed peace council seeking reconciliation with militants.

In that attack, an insurgent posing as a Taliban peace envoy detonated a bomb that was hidden in his turban as he met Rabbani at his home in Kabul.

Tuesday's attack took place at the reception room for guests at the Karzai family home in southern Kandahar province's district of Karz, according to Dawa Khan Minapal, the provincial governor's spokesman.

Hashmat, a political figure in his own right, has been his cousin's staunch supporter and has also backed former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's bid to succeed President Karzai.

It was not the first time that Karzai's family members have been targeted. The president's powerful half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, who was the head of the provincial council, was slain in his home in the city of Kandahar by his bodyguard in July 2011.

The attack comes at a sensitive time in Afghanistan as an audit is taking place under international supervision of all 8 million ballots cast last month in the second round of the country's presidential election. The process is key to insuring a peaceful transfer of power ahead of the withdrawal of most foreign troops by the end of the year.

The two presidential contenders — Ahmadzai and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah — are awaiting the results of the audit.

On Monday, President Karzai appealed for a speedy conclusion to the audit that will determine his successor, saying that Afghanistan urgently needs a new president.

Karzai's slain cousin Hashmat ran a private security company and was also on Ahmadzai's election campaign team as campaign manager for Kandahar.

In Kabul, top Afghan officials, as well as British Ambassador Richard Stagg, condemned the attack and expressed condolences with the Karzai family.

Hashmat's "killers must not be allowed to prevent the desire of ordinary Afghans to see a peaceful political transition based on the votes they cast," Stagg said in a statement.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

Hit and run victim identified
 
Portion of downtown Prince Rupert blocked off for unspecified reason
 
Finning employees make large donation to United Way
Geothermal pitched as alternative to Site C dam
 
Kelowna Siblings to watch themselves on Disney TV
 
Government proposes changes to flood hazard areas
Take a holiday home tour in Parksville Qualicum Beach
 
Small change adds up to big difference
 
UPDATED: Physiotherapist guilty of assaults on eight female patients

Community Events, November 2014

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Nov 26 edition online now. Browse the archives.