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Afghanistan President weeps as slain brother is buried

Thousands attended the funeral of Ahmed Wali Karzai, the murdered brother of Afghanistan's President.

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai attends the memorial service of his brother Ahmad Wali Karzai in Dand district of Kandahar province on July 13, 2011. (Mamoon Durrani/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday led thousands of mourners at the funeral of his half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, who was murdered in his home by his bodyguard a day earlier.

Security was stepped up for the funeral, with police forming a perimeter around the compound in Kandahar, and helicopters deployed overhead.

Various news reports said that Karzai wept, and then climbed into the grave to kiss his brother, who was a central figure in Nato's battle against the Taliban.

Karzai, who was understood to have been very close to his brother, then appealed to Taliban militants to end their violence.

Reuters news agency said Ahmed Wali's death leaves “a dangerous power vacuum” in southern Kandahar province, the Taliban heartland.

(Read more on GP: Afghanistan: A tale of two districts)

Gulab Mangal, the Governor of Helmand province, reportedly escaped an explosion near his car on the way to the funeral.

Al Jazeera correspondent Qais Azimy, said:

The governor's spokesman confirmed that this morning, when they were driving from Helmand to Kandahar, a roadside landmine, which was just 10 metres from the car, exploded.

And two of the governor's bodyguards got injured.

Reuters said that two explosions were also heard in Kandahar city shortly after the funeral.

At a news conference on Tuesday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who paid a surprise visit to Kabul, Karzai spoke of his brother's death:

This is the life of the people of Afghanistan. Afghan families, every one of us, have suffered from it, and we hope, God willing, for our suffering to be over.

In other news on Wednesday five French soldiers were killed in a suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/110713/afghanistan-karzai-brother-murdered-funeral