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Bomber who killed Afghan president's cousin hid explosives under cap

AfghanistanKabul (Afghanistan)Hamid KarzaiAhmed Wali KarzaiJohn Kerry
Suicide bomber kills cousin of Afghan President Hamid Karzai at his home in Kandahar
Hashmat Karzai, cousin of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, killed by suicide bomber with explosives in his cap

A young suicide bomber with explosives hidden beneath his cap assassinated a politically influential cousin of Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday, a provincial official said.

The 24-year-old attacker blew himself up in a reception room at Hashmat Khalil Karzai’s home in the southern province of Kandahar, according to Dawa Khan Minapal, the spokesman for the province’s governor. The bomber was bowing to kiss Hashmat Khalil Karzai’s hand after morning prayers for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, the Associated Press reported.

One other person, described only as a civilian, was wounded by the blast.

The attack was the latest to target an Afghan political leader, and was not the first to claim a relative of President Karzai. Ahmed Wali Karzai, his half brother, was killed in his home in Kandahar in 2011.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack on Hashmat Karzai. The Taliban is waging an insurgency that has targeted other powerful figures in the country, and has been trying to disrupt the transition of power from Hamid Karzai to an elected successor.

A double bombing last month — a roadside bomb followed by a suicide attack — targeted presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah, who survived. Hashmat Karzai was the campaign manager for Abdullah’s rival, former Finance Minister and World Bank official Ashraf Ghani.

An audit is being conducted to determine the winner of last month’s runoff between Ghani and Abdullah.

Hashmat Karzai was considered a staunch supporter of President Karzai.

The president issued a statement condemning the attack. “Just like all other Afghans who are the daily targets of terrorist attacks, our family, too, is no exception and as every other Afghan, we also will have to bear it,” he said.

Baktash is a special correspondent.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

July 29, 4:02 p.m.: This article has been updated with more details on the assassination.

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AfghanistanKabul (Afghanistan)Hamid KarzaiAhmed Wali KarzaiJohn Kerry
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