Attacker likely hid bomb in turban at Karzai service
Officials believe a suicide bomber hid explosives in his turban before blowing himself up at a Thursday memorial service for the slain half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The service was held at the Sarra Jamai mosque in Kandahar city, where relatives and friends had gathered to mourn Ahmed Wali Karzai, two days after he was shot dead.
Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa was at the Thursday service when the deadly attack occurred, leaving five people dead and 15 others injured.
"There was a prayer going on and after that prayer the man came close to the director of the religious council and exploded," said Wesa, who saw the attacker's turban explode.
"It looks like he was targeting the director."
Hekmatullah Hekmat, the head of the provincial clerical council, was among the five people killed in the mosque. A young child also died in the attack.
An Afghan parliamentarian identified as Bismillah Afghanmal was among the wounded.
Provincial intelligence chief Gen. Mohammad Naeem Momin said that after viewing the bomber's remains, authorities concluded that he hid his explosives inside his turban.
The deadly blast came just a day after the funeral for the president's brother, who headed Kandahar's provincial council at the time of his death.
He died Tuesday when he was shot in the head and chest by a bodyguard. The Taliban claimed that they had recruited the shooter who carried out the assassination.
At his funeral, the Afghan president wept for his slain sibling and called on the Taliban to "stop killing their own people."
The Afghan president left Kandahar after his half-brother's funeral and went back to Kabul, leaving him safe from the carnage at the memorial service on Thursday.
Canadian Press reporter Murray Brewster said the death of Ahmed Wali Karzai and the subsequent bombing at his memorial service has raised questions about the vulnerability of the president's family.
"The Karzai family is among the most powerful in this country," Brewster told CTV's Canada AM during a telephone interview from Kandahar on Thursday.
"The fact that a suicide bomber could get into a reception for their family raises a lot of concern."
Zalmai Ayubi, a spokesperson for the provincial governor, said it was "a mistake" for Afghan authorities to reduce security measures after the formal funeral service for Ahmed Wali Karzai on Wednesday.
"After the VIPs and dignitaries left following the funeral, they decreased security," Ayubi said. "That was a mistake."
The bombing at the Sarra Jamai mosque followed an attack in another part of Kandahar city on Thursday, in which a bomb exploded near a police vehicle. Provincial police Chief Abdul Raziq said one civilian was killed in the morning attack.
With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press