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Suicide Bomber Kills Afghan President's Cousin

by VOA News July 29, 2014

Afghan officials say a suicide bomber has killed a cousin of President Hamid Karzai in the southern province of Kandahar.

Hashmat Karzai, who was an adviser to presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani, was hosting guests at his house for the Eid al-Fitr holiday on Tuesday when a man detonated explosives hidden inside a turban as the pair greeted each other.

Dawa Khan Minapal, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said one other person was injured in the attack.

'A suicide bomber hid his explosives under his turban, he came for an Eid greeting and detonated the explosives, killing Hashmat Khalil Karzai and injuring one civilian,' he said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

​​Hashmat Karzai led the election campaign of presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani, one of two hopefuls vying to replace Karzai.

Ghani wrote on Twitter that his adviser's death should bring Afghans together against their common enemies.

'We'll not succumb to coward acts of the enemies of [Afghanistan]. Every loss of Afghans reminds us that [we] must stay united to overcome the challenges,' Ghani said.

Graeme Smith, an Afghanistan researcher at International Crisis Group, tells VOA Afghan radio that the Taliban may be behind the killing of Hashmat Karzai, in an effort to undermine the government.

In a statement, the U.S. Embassy called for the attack's perpetrators to be brought to justice.

It's not the first time the president's family has been the target of violence.

In 2011, Hamid Karzai's half-brother Ahmad Wali Karzai, who headed a provincial council, was killed by a bodyguard at home.

Tuesday's attack comes amid heightened tensions in the country, as Ghani and his opponent Abdullah Abdullah dispute a June 14 presidential runoff vote.

Preliminary results put Ghani ahead but Abdullah rejected the outcome and alleged massive fraud.

In a deal mediated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the rival presidential candidates agreed to a full U.N.-supervised audit of the entire runoff poll and committed to abide by the final results.

VOA's Afghan Service contributed to this report.

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