Zee Media Bureau
Kandahar: Escalating tensions over the contested Presidential Election result in Afghanistan, a suicide attacker on Tuesday killed a cousin of outgoing President Hamid Karzai near here.
According to reports, Hashmat Karzai, who famously owned a pet lion, was killed by a man with explosives hidden inside his turban when visitors arrived to celebrate Eid, the holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“A suicide bomber disguised as a guest came to Hashmat Karzai’s house to greet him,” a news agency quoted Dawa Khan Minapal, the Kandahar provincial governor’s spokesman, as saying.
“After he hugged Hashmat, he blew up his explosives and killed him.”
Notably, Hashmat was a campaign manager in the volatile southern city for Ashraf Ghani, one of the two presidential candidates involved in a bitter dispute over fraud that threatens to pitch the country into worsening instability.
Ghani and opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah are at loggerheads over the June 14 second-round election, which has been mired in allegations of massive fraud.
Ghani won the vote according to preliminary results, but an audit of the ballots is under way after Abdullah refused to accept defeat due to fraud claims.
With the audit triggering another outbreak of complaints from both sides, many fear the country could be at risk of a revival of the ethnic violence seen during the 1992-1996 civil war.
Hashmat had earlier campaigned for Qayyum Karzai, the President’s brother, in this year’s Presidential Election. He later moved to support Ghani when Qayyum withdrew from the race.
In 2011, the half brother of Karzai was shot dead at his home in Kandahar. Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Kandahar provincial council chief, was killed during a gathering.
(With AFP inputs)