Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s younger brother has been assassinated at home by one of his bodyguards. The Afghan Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attack.
Ahmad Wali Karzai was one of the most powerful and controversial men in Afghanistan, and his death will leave a dangerous power vacuum in the Kandahar region.
Allegedly on the payroll of the CIA, Ahmad Wali was also accused of corruption and ties to the opium trade – accusations he denied.
Hamid Karzai said “I hope these miseries which every Afghan family has suffered come to an end and we enjoy peace and stability in our country.”
The assassination coincided with an unannounced visit by French president Nicolas Sarkozy. He said he planned to withdraw 1,000 troops – a quarter of the French contingent – from the country by the end of next year. The remaining 3,000 soldiers will be based in Kapisa.
The move comes after the United States and France said in June that they would pull out soldiers faster than expected.
French soldiers have been involved in the military operation in Afghanistan since 2001.
The quicker withdrawal could give Sarkozy a boost ahead of next year’s presidential elections in France, where he faces a battle to win a second term.