A close adviser to President Hamid Karzai who had been a fierce foe of the Taliban in Afghanistan’s south was killed Sunday night after a small team of gunmen stormed his walled home here in the capital.
The slain aide, Jan Mohammed Khan, was a former governor
of the southern Oruzgan Province who had been one of Mr. Karzai’s trusted
allies and a regular presence inside the presidential palace. He was killed
alongside a member of Parliament from Oruzgan, Mohammed Hosham Watanwal.
The men’s deaths were confirmed by Gen. Mohammed Zahir, a
police official in Kabul.
The killings marked another potentially heavy blow for
Mr. Karzai, coming just days after his powerful half-brother was assassinated
by a close associate in southern Afghanistan.
About 90 minutes after the attack began at 8:30 p.m.,
Afghan security forces still had not captured or killed all of the gunmen. It
was unclear whether anyone else had been killed or wounded, or whether the
assailants had taken hostages.
“The terrorists are still inside, in one of the rooms,”
General Zahir said. “We are trying our best.”
Hundreds of police officers, soldiers and Afghan
intelligence officers swarmed the scene in one of Kabul’s more affluent
neighborhoods, filling the streets where government officials and businessmen
live behind high walls and steel gates, protected by many men with guns.
Sporadic gunfire rang through the dark streets, but it
was unclear who was shooting.
The slaying of another Karzai ally from Afghanistan’s
still-violent southern belt heightened concerns that militants were attempting
to weaken the president’s standing and unravel fragile security gains there
after months of intense fighting by NATO and Afghan forces.
Oruzgan sits just to the north of Kandahar Province, the
Taliban heartland where Mr. Karzai’s half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, had been
a polarizing but powerful leader. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for
killing Ahmed Karzai, but the motives of the gunmen — who was himself killed —
Imprisoned during the Taliban’s rule, Mr. Khan was seen
as an eager and bitter foe of insurgents who worked with the NATO-led coalition
during his time as governor. But he was dogged by accusations of corruption and
failure to provide basic public services, lost his post in 2006 and was brought
A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security
Assistance Force said that Afghan officials had not requested any help from
Rahimi contributed reporting.