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Four dead in suicide bombing at Karzai brother's memorial service

Afghan president was away in Kabul when attack was launched on Kandahar mosque. UN figures show number of Afghan civilians killed this year is up on figures for last year.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai attending his half-brother's funeral yesterday in the family's ancestral village of Karz. He was not at the bombed mourning ceremony in Kandahar today.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai attending his half-brother's funeral yesterday in the family's ancestral village of Karz. He was not at the bombed mourning ceremony in Kandahar today.
Image: AP Photo

THE LEADING ISLAMIC cleric in Kandahar has been killed in a suicide bombing attack on the memorial service for Hamid Karzai’s half-brother.

Afghan President Karzai’s half-brother Ahmed Wali Karzai was shot dead, reportedly by his bodyguard, this week. He was the head of the Kandahar provincial council but had recently become embroiled in a series of allegations, including that he was involved in drug trafficking and was on the CIA payroll. Hamid Karzai had repeatedly defended Ahmed Wali against the claims – and Wali had also denied them.

[caption id="attachment_176901" align="alignnone" width="511" caption="Afghan President Hamid Karzai, second from right, with his half brother Ahmad Wali Karzai, left, last October. (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan)."][/caption]

The Wall Street Journal’s Maria Abi-Habib reports that the explosives for today’s attack on the mourning ceremony in the Rod Mosque in Kandahar city were concealed in the turban of a young suicide bomber. Hamid Karzai was in Kabul at the time of the attack. Around 13 people have been injured and Sky News has just reported that four people have been killed in the bombing. One of the dead is Maulavi Hekmatullah Hekmat, head of Kandahar’s government religious authority.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports today that the number of Afghan civilians killed in bombings and other attacks is up 15 per cent on the same period last year. The figures come from the UN which shows that 1,462 Afghan civilians have lost their lives in the crossfire between the Taliban and Afghan, US and Nato forces. During the first half of last year, that figure was 1,271 civilians.

The number of civilians injured rose too, by 7 per cent. In the first six months of this year, 2,144 civilians were injured. There were 1,997 injured in the first six months of 2010.

- additional reporting by AP

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