|Karzai cousin killed in suicide bomb attack
A suicide attacker killed an influential cousin of Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday, officials said, raising tensions during a dispute over election results that will determine the country's new leader as US-led troops withdraw.
Hashmat Karzai was a campaign manager in the southern province of Kandahar for Ashraf Ghani, one of the two presidential candidates involved in a bitter stand-off that threatens to trigger worsening ethnic instability, AFP reports.
Hashmat, who famously owned a pet lion, was killed at his home outside Kandahar city by a man with explosives hidden in his turban as visitors arrived to celebrate the Eid holiday at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
"A suicide bomber disguised as a guest came to Hashmat Karzai's house to greet him,'' Dawa Khan Minapal, the Kandahar provincial governor's spokesman, told AFP.
"After he hugged Hashmat, he blew up his explosives and killed him.''
Ghani and opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah are at loggerheads over the June 14 second-round election, which has been mired in allegations of massive fraud.
Ghani won the vote according to preliminary results, but an audit of the ballots has started after Abdullah refused to accept defeat due to claims of ''industrial-scale'' ballot-box stuffing.
With the audit beset by another outbreak of complaints from both sides, many fear the country is at risk of returning to the ethnic violence of the 1992-1996 civil war.