Government sources in Kandahar said Ahmad Wali Karzai was assassinated mysteriously at his home in Kandahar on Tuesday, a Press correspondent reported.
Karzai said Tuesday in a press conference that Ahmed Wali Karzai’s death is a pain he shares with all Afghans.
Officials say Ahmed Wali Karzai was assassinated by a bodyguard at his home in Kandahar.
However, an Afghan intelligence official reiterated that he was killed by a visiting guest and not by a body guard.
The gunman has himself been killed by other bodyguards during the incident, the official said.
Wali Karzai was reportedly a powerful and well-connected figure and headed Kandahar’s provincial council.
In May 2009, his motorcade was ambushed by insurgents firing rockets and machine guns in eastern Nangarhar province. One of his bodyguards was killed, but he was not harmed.
That attack came less than two months after four Taliban suicide bombers stormed Kandahar’s provincial council office, killing 13 people in an assault that Ahmed Wali Karzai said was aimed at him. A Taliban spokesman said the attack targeted the general compound. The president’s half brother had left the building a few minutes before that attack.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assassination of President Hamid Karzai’s younger brother on Tuesday, calling it “one of our biggest achievements” in nearly a decade of war.
Taliban spokesman Usuf Ahmadi told AFP by telephone that the group had recently assigned a gunman to kill Ahmed Wali Karzai, a hugely powerful and controversial figure in the Afghan south.
The killing of his chief local powerbroker will be a huge loss for President Hamid Karzai in Kandahar, the heartland of the Taliban insurgency as NATO troops rush to start withdrawing combat troops after a decade of war.
Initial details were sketchy, with a family friend telling AFP on condition of anonymity that he was killed by a bodyguard while entertaining guests at home and an Afghan intelligence official saying he was shot dead by a guest.
“We can confirm he has been martyred,” Kandahar provincial government spokesman Zalmay Ayubi told AFP, providing no further details.
A health official, also speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, said Wali Karzai had been shot dead.
“He was shot dead at his house by one of the visiting guests not by a body guard, at around 11:30 am (0700 GMT),” said an official at Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security.
The official said the gunman had himself been killed by other bodyguards.
The family friend said a number of Wali Karzai’s guests were also killed in the gunfire, but there was no immediate confirmation of who or how many.
The assassination came just before the Afghan leader received French President Nicolas Sarkozy, on a surprise visit to Afghanistan where he announced that Paris would recall 1,000 soldiers by the end of next year.
Ahmed Wali Karzai, who was head of the Kandahar provincial council, had become a political liability for the Karzai government after a series of allegations, including that he was on the CIA payroll and involved in drug trafficking. He denied the charges, and the president repeatedly defended him, denouncing accusations that his brother was involved in criminal activities in the restive south.
Rangina Hamidi, a resident of Kandahar and daughter of the city’s mayor, said Ahmed Wali Karzai is survived by five children – two sons and three daughters. She says his youngest son was born about a month ago.
American documents leaked by Internet whistleblower WikiLeaks late last year painted him as a corrupt drugs baron, lifting the lid on Western thoughts long kept private on the president’s younger half brother’s tainted record.
Kandahar is a make-or-break battleground in the US-led fight to defeat the insurgency, where the United States has poured in thousands of extra troops to wrest the initiative from the Taliban and bolster the Afghan government.
Afghanistan is ranked one of the most corrupt countries in the world, where official graft undermines public support for the Western-backed government and is believed to help fuel support for the Taliban insurgency.
A US cable in 2009 said a meeting with Wali Karzai captured one of the “major challenges in Afghanistan: how to fight corruption and connect the people to their government, when the key government officials are themselves corrupt.”
Wali Karzai, who ran his own private militia in the province, is reported to have said the plethora of independent security firms run by different men in the region should be brought under the control of one man.