Obama called Karzai to offer condolences

Afghan leader Hamid Karzai wept openly as he led thousands of mourners at funeral of his brother.

Washington: US President Barack Obama on Wednesday called Afghan leader Hamid Karzai to offer condolences over the killing of his half-brother gunned down in Kandahar.

Obama telephoned Karzai, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, after the Afghan leader`s brother was shot dead at his home on Tuesday.

"The President this morning placed a call and spoke briefly with President Karzai and expressed his condolences on the loss of his half-brother," the spokesman said.

Karzai wept openly on Wednesday as he led thousands of mourners at the funeral of his brother Ahmad Wali Karzai, as the assassination threatened to throw southern Afghanistan into renewed instability.

Ahmad Wali Karzai was dogged by allegations of links to the drugs trade and corruption, but his shock killing at home by his own head of security deprives NATO and the government of their main ally in the volatile south.

Analysts have warned that his death creates a dangerous power vacuum in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban militia, where rivals are expected to jockey for influence as the US-led NATO mission starts to withdraw troops.

Underlining fears of increased insecurity, two bombs were found along the path of the funeral cortege from Kandahar city to Dand district, where the younger Karzai was buried in the family plot.

NATO troops detonated both devices in controlled explosions, police said.

On Tuesday, the United States strongly condemned Karzai`s murder "in the strongest possible terms”.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she had telephoned the Afghan President to offer condolences over Ahmed Wali Karzai, a controversial figure whom US officials had counted on to stand against the Taliban in Kandahar.

"We join President Karzai in his prayer for peace and stability in Afghanistan and remain committed to supporting the government and people of Afghanistan in their struggle for peace," she said.

Ahmad Wali Karzai had been dogged by allegations of corruption and drugs links and was reported to have been on the CIA payroll.

But despite his unsavoury reputation he played a crucial role for Americans in Kandahar, perhaps the toughest battlefield in 10 years of war and the focus of a troop surge last year.

Bureau Report

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